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Chinese Athletic Brand Makes Sponsorship Splash

We have teamed up with Ben Sturner and his extraordinary crew at Leverage Agency to bring you the top five movers and shakers each week in the world of sports sponsorships and marketing.

Top Chinese Athletic Brand Signs NBA’s Evan Turner

For years, we’ve been talking about the importance of American sports brands, including shoe companies like Nike, getting into China. We haven’t talked as much about Chinese shoe companies getting into this country.

That’s about to change. CNBC has exclusively learned that Li-Ning, China’s top athletic brand, has signed Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft to a multi-year deal that will make him the face of the brand.

Wal-Mart to climb aboard Gordon’s car?

Wal-Mart’s potential move into NASCAR has led the retail giant deep into negotiations with Hendrick Motorsports over sponsorship of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet next season.

There continue to be several moving parts to the Wal-Mart discussions with Hendrick and NASCAR, which began in the spring and have progressed through the summer. Wal-Mart’s play could have tentacles in both sponsorship and licensing at the team and league level, according to industry sources.

The retailer has been hesitant to spend money on sports sponsorships in the past, so Wal-Mart’s entrance to NASCAR would provide a huge boost to a sport that has been ravaged by the recession and attracted little new sponsorship money in the last two seasons.

Shift would allow sponsor logos on swimwear

Soccer has corporate logos on jerseys, and NASCAR has them on cars. Soon swimmers could have them on swimsuits.

USA Swimming is considering amending its swimwear rules to allow professional and amateur swimmers to wear two corporate logos on their suits, caps, goggles and other clothing. If the rule is approved by USA Swimming’s board in September, swimmers will be able to wear the logos on their suits and caps for the first time at USA Swimming events.

To date, swimmers have been allowed to wear only the trademark logo of their suit, cap or goggle manufacturer. The new rule would allow them to wear the logo of any corporation provided it is not associated with tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceuticals that contain banned substances. Logos could even conflict with existing USA Swimming partners.

Suiting Up in Jerseys Suitable for Women

The campaign, called “N.F.L. Women’s Apparel, Fit For You,” takes an approach to marketing clothing that is meant to be both fashionable and sporty. While jerseys and T-shirts for women have been available on Web sites like nflshop.com and in catalogs, this is the first time the league has dedicated a campaign to apparel for women.

If the terms “fashionable” and “football jersey” seem contradictory, that may be because of the way jerseys have been made.

The league has carried women’s attire for the last 10 years, but followed the “shrink it and pink it” philosophy of taking a man’s jersey and making it smaller and, well, pink.

Discover To Serve As New Orange Bowl Game Title Sponsor

Discover Financial Services, the Orange Bowl Committee and ESPN announced today that an agreement has been reached for Discover to be the title sponsor for the 2011-2014 Orange Bowl Games and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. The Orange Bowl Game will be known as the “Discover Orange Bowl” and the 2013 BCS National Championship game to be hosted by the Orange Bowl in South Florida will be named the “2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game.” Under the partnership, Discover will be the official card of the Orange Bowl and the Bowl Championship Series.

In conjunction with this new alliance, a new game mark has been developed that will be incorporated into all Discover Orange Bowl and BCS-related materials.

The four-year deal includes the multi-media integration of Discover as part of ESPN’s season-long college football coverage and marketing.

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