SHANGHAI, CHINA (June 7, 2011) -- Off-road motorcycle racing, double front flips on a bicycle, long jumping on skateboards....if you want to reach urban youth, extreme sports are one of the fastest-growing sub-cultures in China. They may look dangerous to nervous Chinese parents pinning their family's future on the success of one child, but a growing number of their kids--and the brands catering to them--are flocking to BMX racing, skateboarding and aggressive in-line skating.
Marketers are quickly learning how to play ball with extreme sports fans, and the advertising goes far beyond the gear. Urban youth are drawn to the fashion, lifestyle and events like the Kia X Games Asia 2011 recently held in Shanghai, attracting interest from marketers like Converse and adidas.
Many athletes and spectators are into extreme games for the "fashion and lifestyle" as much as the sports themselves, said Singapore-based Harvey Davis, VP of event management at ESPN Star Sports, a featured guest in the third episode of our weekly advertising affairs series, "Thoughtful China." The show launched today at http://www.thoughtfulchina.com.
"They want to be a part of the culture, they wear the clothes, they listen to the music...that's cool as well," said Mr. Davis. "Shanghai is an important market and a growth market for ESPN as well as for our title sponsor Kia."
This week's show also features Chien Hwang, TBWA's exec creative director in Shanghai and Eric Lai, a sports marketing manager at Converse China, who tackled tough questions about marketing to action sports fans through digital media, the rise of extreme sports beyond tier one cities, and parental concerns.
Older Chinese parents "definitely are not supporting their kids to go skateboarding in terms of the one-child policy, they don't want their kids to get hurt," Mr. Lai said, but younger parents are more permissive. "The next five years will see a big change for action sports."
They also weighed in about why soccer, one of the world's most mainstream sports, hasn't fared better in China: Soccer's image won't change "until China gets a decent team and actually starts winning and we can be on par with other Asian teams [like] Korea and Japan," Mr. Hwang said, but the game itself is popular among young Chinese. "The first [Chinese] guy to play for Man U will be an icon."
From our studio in Shanghai, "Thoughtful China" regularly covers Greater China's burgeoning media, marketing and advertising landscape in a fun, relevant and memorable manner. Our series goes to great lengths to bring important topics front-and-center as guests, panelists and newsmakers from China, and sometimes beyond, appear each week to discuss and debate matters important to all of us. We hope the show will help define and shape a global conversation about our changing industry in the world's fastest-growing economy.
About Thoughtful China
Thoughtful China was created by Thoughtful Media Group to help define and shape a global conversation about a changing ad industry in the world's fastest-growing economy. Thoughtful China, an online weekly advertising affairs series produced by Normandy Madden, covers trends and news in Greater China's burgeoning media, marketing and advertising landscape. The ad industry's top global executives as well as local newsmakers and experts participate in comprehensive interviews and roundtable discussions about matters important to the entire industry. Thoughtful China is available at www.thoughtfulchina.com.
About Thoughtful Media Group
Thoughtful Media is based in Los Angeles, California, with offices in Shanghai and Tokyo, Japan. The company was recently institutionally capitalized to fully undertake the opportunities presenting throughout China and other emerging media markets around the world. The company was founded by CEO Jak Severson and CFO Dan Thorman.
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