Staff Reporters
Aug 9, 2022

Asia-Pacific Power List 2022: Lydia Zhu, Anta Sports

It’s safe to say that Zhu’s work is partly responsible for the rising influence of Chinese sportswear products in the past few years.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2022: Lydia Zhu, Anta Sports
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Lydia Zhu

Chief marketing officer
Anta Sports
New member  

Fourteen years ago, when Beijing held the Summer Olympics, Anta Sports was just a Chinese local brand listed in Hong Kong. In 2022, when the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics ended in March, Anta won fame and fortune as the official sportswear partner of the Beijing Organizing Committee. This was done through its partnership with Eileen Gu and the growing trend of Guochao (Chinese national fashion) in recent years. 

Zhu joined as chief marketing officer in 2018, as Anta started a new journey for both the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics, emphasising the brand storytelling of Chinese national teams as part of Anta’s ‘Two Olympics’ strategy. In fact, Anta's marketing team began its Olympics marketing campaigns many years ago and even switched agencies across this time. 

Zhu worked together with BBDO China and released a series of works. The one for Tokyo Olympics, ‘Fight to the Last Step’, helped Anta differentiate itself from competitors and was celebrated by Chinese media as one of the top five Olympic campaigns in China, together with Alibaba, Kuaishou, Omega and Red (Xiaohongshu). 

Focusing on technological innovations and R&D for Olympics athletes and sponsoring the Chinese national weightlifting team during the Tokyo Olympics, Anta products were perceived to be a symbol of Chinese beauty and strength. The collaboration with Chinese weightlifting champion Lv Xiaojun generated lots of buzz on China’s social-media channels. Meanwhile, under Zhu’s leadership, Anta began to localise the ‘gym tech’ concept from its flagship stores to over 7,000 across China. 

Another brand strategy that shines under Zhu’s leadership is that the brand partnered with top influencers such as Wang Yibo, Eileen Gu and NBA player Klay Thompson to attract Gen Z consumers in China. In 2021, Bilibili, Chinese Gen Z’s favourite platform, selected Anta’s K17 basketball shoes, named after Klay Thompson, for the Bilibili Z100 Chinese national products list, a consumer index monitoring data from Gen Z users. 

According to data from Tmall, during last November’s Double 11 global shopping festival, Anta Group's cumulative ecommerce turnover reached 4.65 billion yuan (around US$700 million), soaring over 60% compared to the same period in 2020.

Apart from the Anta brand, the company adopted a multi-brand strategy. One of the top brands it acquired for Greater China markets is Fila, which appointed K-pop band BTS as a global brand ambassador. 

Before Anta, Zhu worked for big-ticket brands such as Under Armour, Puma, 361 Sports and Adidas for many years in China. Now, she is leading the Chinese sportswear brand to bridge the gap between Anta and international sportswear giants like Nike and Adidas. 

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


Campaign Asia

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