Yao Ming Stands Tall for Reebok

BOSTON Reebok has signed a multi-year deal with Yao Ming, the native of Shanghai, China, now in his second season with the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

Under the agreement, Stoughton, Mass.-based Reebok will design, market and sell a Yao Ming signature collection of athletic footwear and apparel. Ming will debut the NBA Fusion shoe on-court on Oct. 30, Houston’s first regular season game of the 2003-04 NBA season. Yao’s official signature footwear and apparel line will be introduced at retail in fall 2004.

Reebok also is developing a globally integrated marketing program for Yao, which will include a print and television ad campaign, retail presence and grassroots initiatives.

Financial terms were not revealed. Arnell Group in New York is Reebok’s lead agency.

Reebok also said it will break a 30- and 60-second spot for its Allen Iverson A7 basketball shoe, via Arnell. The spot will debut Oct. 28 on TNT during the San Antonio-Phoenix season opener, and then will run on ESPN, ESPN 2, MTV, MTV 2, BET, Comedy Central, Fox Sports Net, UPN, Spike TV, Comcast Sports Net and associated NBA properties. Spend was not given.

In the commercial, Iverson awakens from nightmares of missed shots with the Philadelphia 76ers and heads out the door at 5 a.m., dribbling a basketball down the pre-dawn streets of Philadelphia, alongside trains, past barking dogs, in and out of oncoming traffic, and finally up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Paul Fireman, chairman and CEO, Reebok International, said in a statement, “We now have several extraordinarily powerful assets in global performance basketball. And the addition of Yao gives us incredible traction in China, a critical market with great potential for our brand.”

—Brandweek staff report