Staff Reporters
Nov 18, 2020

40 under 40 2020: Echo Li, Sportfive

Echo Li was single-handedly tasked to expand an entire business in China—and to say that she rose to the occasion is an understatement.

40 under 40 2020: Echo Li, Sportfive
Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 

Echo Li

Managing director, Greater China; SVP, global partnerships

At 29, Echo Li had a daunting task ahead of her: she was tasked to set up Lagardère Sports (now Sportfive) from scratch in China, where the brand was unfamiliar. But she handled it like a champ. In just four years, she built a team of 33 and executed 60 partnership deals and brand activations, while continuing to grow the business as well as educating Chinese businesses on sports marketing and partnerships.

Some of the projects Li can proudly include in her exhaustive portfolio are Tsingtao Beer and C’estbon’s official partnerships with the AFC Champions League; Hisense’ 2018 FIFA World Cup creative activations in international markets; Hublot’s social-media creative campaigns in China during the 2018 FIFA World Cup; Neymar Jr. as Oppo’s global ambassador; Borussia Dortmund’s content collaboration with Tiktok to support its market entrance in Europe; and Honor’s official partnership with the AFF Suzuki Cup.

One of her most commendable achievements was brokering a four-year deal for Oppo and Boston Athletic Association (for the Boston Marathon) from 2020 to 2023. The deal helped the smartphone brand penetrate the US market, and speaks highly of her resilience and quick rise in China. 

A truly respectable quality that Li holds is her passion to cultivate local talent. When Sportfive expanded in China, she refused to resort to relocating existing managers and staff from Singapore, and instead, handpicked a local team from the ground up. She ‘firmly believes’ that the successful localisation of global resources and assets must include local insights. As the sports marketing field in China has ‘room to grow ‘in comparison with the West, Li takes pride that every—big and small—project Sportfive works on is a nod to local talent cultivation.

Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 


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