On June 4th, same day with the Tiananmen Crackdown, millions of Chinese people were paying close attention to another historical moment.
Li Na, the 29-year-old girl from Wuhan won the French Open, defeating defending champion Francesca Schiavone. Her historic win has changed the perception of tennis in China. Nike celebrated her achievements with the message “Use Sport to Change Everything – JUST DO IT.” Nike gave away Li Na posters featuring the slogan at more than 50 Nike stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu the day after Li’s victory .Nike’s Li Na poster “Use Sport to Change everything–Just Do it”
It is for sure not a coincidence for Nike to choose Li Na as its spokesperson. However celebrity endorsement is a PR strategy that frequently used by corporations, the embrace between Nike and Li Na can still be a ‘successful PR’ case study.
Li was always a path-breaker. At Wimbledon in 2006, she was the first Chinese to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. That year, she also became the first Chinese to break into the top 30 and then the top 20. But Li’s biggest successes have come since she flew that coop–the state training system that has maintained in China over decades. It has been a long time that Chinese athletics are fed, trained as well as ruled by the government. However the system is often criticized, Chinese people have to admit that it is the system that made the once ‘Sick Man of Asia’ become today’s sport superpower,at least super Olympic medal winner, in such a short period of time.
Thus, Li Na’s win is like a win of freedom. For the first time, we see a change is made and made successfully. Just do it–the slogan of Nike–cannot be more suitable to describe the personality of Li. The outspoken Li, when asked about her motivation, has told the media many times, “I play for money.”