LeBron James Promotes Pork Donuts and Ice Cream in China

It may be the best athlete food endorsement since "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Slim Jim, or it could be the worst since Mike Tyson and Pepsi, but Dunkin' Brands Inc. announced Monday that LeBron James will promote pork donuts, among other products, in China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, according to Reuters.

The Massachusetts-based company is catering to local tastes in the region where it plans to open another 100 locations. Since the store has entered the ever-expanding China market, the donut-maker customized some products for local tastes such as a dried-pork donut, a seaweed donut, a beef-curry donut, a green tea donut and a Mochi ring donut made from a rice indigenous to the region.

James will be promoting the entire brand, not just a single product, says Michelle King, global public relations director for Dunkin Brands.

"Mr. James is working with us as a brand ambassador in select Asian markets, including China, Taiwan, India and South Korea," says King.

In a country that can call basketball star Yao Ming as its own and where basketball as a sport is more popular than ever, Dunkin' Brands picked the Miami Heat forward partly because of his star appeal, said Chief Executive Officer Nigel Travis in an interview with Reuters.

James also has the number one selling jersey and basketball shoe, says King.

After witnessing James's interaction with fans in China over summer, Dunkin' Brands Chief Global Marketing and Innovation Officer John Costello knew that promoting pork donuts was the basketball star's next big move.

Costello said that Dunkin' Brands is developing milk tea and bagels with pork floss topping to cater to the China market, yum!

The contract is a multi-year marketing deal between Dunkin' Brands and James in which James will promote the donut and ice cream brands through online media, television, in-store marketing and guest appearances at local events.

Dunkin' Brands holds about 5,400 locations in the whole Asia-Pacific market--about a third of its total stores--but it seeks to build many more Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins stores by 2015.

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David Minsky is a U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He has also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky