If you followed the Rocky‘s Olympics blog this summer, then you know that the real story of the 2008 Beijing Games was who was signing on the dotted line and who was taking over the airwaves.
You probably remember Li Ning. The athletic maker, whose sales in China placed the company third behind Nike and Adidas before the Games, received the greatest free ad ever when their founder and chairman, Li Ning, flew above the Bird’s Nest to light the Olympic torch during the Opening Ceremonies. More than 800 million Chinese saw the torch lighting live.
Meanwhile, Yili used the Games to increase their predicted sales of milk — yes, milk — to over $2.92 billion for the calendar year.
Now, the post-Olympic numbers are in. In 1,500 face-to-face surveys across the country, when asked what brands they had been paying attention to recently, 19.1 percent of Chinese said — without being prompted — Li Ning. Before the Games, 16.3 percent mentioned the brand.
But here’s the bigger news: Li Ning actually leapfrogged Adidas in terms of recognition, even though Adidas was the official athletic sponsor of the Olympics. 24.1 percent of Chinese said they knew Adidas before the Games. Afterward, only 18.6 percent said they knew the brand.
As for the aforementioned Yili, they’re now the second most recognizable brand in China, according to this survey. 29.3 percent of those polled mentioned the brand, up more than 15 percent from the pre-Olympics polling.
The survey also asked about athletes who competed in the Olympics. Michael Phelps was recognized by exactly 0.0 percent of Chinese before the Games. Afterward, 10.8 percent were able to name him. But diver Guo Jingjing made the biggest leap, recognized by only 11.4 percent before the Games but by 40.2% afterward.
It should be no surprise that she wore Li Ning in the pool and was featured in several Yili ads during the Games.
[Random post-script: I am wearing my Shaquille O’Neal Li Ning sneakers as I type this post. I am not entirely sure how how affects my biases toward the company, though I should say that they make very comfortable shoes.]