Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao is having one hell of a year, and it’s about to get better. Nike, the worldwide sports brand, is signing him to an endorsement deal.
Amazing to see Nike collaborating with Uzi for their ‘Dribble &’ campaign w/ @KingJames.
— Barento Mohammed (@RazLPL) October 17, 2018
The superstar ADC is having a record 2018, winning both LPL splits, the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational, and the regional Rift Rivals tournament. Right now, he is heading to the quarterfinals of League‘s World Championships. His team, Royal Never Give Up, is looking like a favorite to win it all. Now, he will be joining Chinese actor Bai Jingting and NBA superstar LeBron James in promo pictures.
What are these stars promoting? It is Nike’s newest campaign in collaboration with LeBron James, called “Dribble &”. It is a marketing campaign for his upcoming TV series, “Shut Up and Dribble”, a three-part documentary series highlighting how NBA players have helped to bring social change in the world. In the ad, Uzi is wearing a black t-shirt with the words, “Dribble and Carry”. The “carry” is from Uzi’s position on his League of Legends team, Attack Damage Carry.
A First for Nike
There have been multiple sports brands who have made partnerships with esports players. However, this will be the first time for Nike, who has not made such a partnership before. It is a huge step for esports, as Nike is a worldwide-known organization with connections to many famous sports stars and celebrities. Uzi is a great candidate for their first partnership, as he is arguably the best League of Legends’ player in the world right now.
Additionally, he is quite the celebrity in China, where he and his team are situated in. Uzi would actually have a documentary created about his career and accomplishments, before the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. For his team, Royal Never Give Up, it is another great partnership with an iconic brand. In the past year, RNG would sign deals with fast-food giant KFC, as well as German car brand Mercedes-Benz. The famous car logo is promoted throughout RNG’s social media and on their jerseys. RNG’s home esports arena would also sport the German automotive’s logo.
Who knows, maybe in the future, other sports brands will place esports professionals alongside traditional sports professionals. We already see sports teams embracing the esports culture and its profitability. Major sports clothing brands may come to see the truth as well, and begin partnering with some of the biggest esports personalities across the world! Could we see LeBron James and Uzi in a commercial one day? Time will have to tell.
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