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Anyone watching the opening ceremony on Friday saw the final torchbearer being hoisted up 100 feet to capture the world’s attention for a full four minutes while he lit the torch in perhaps the most dramatic fashion in Olympic history.

The problem for Nike and Adidas is that the person was none other than Li Ning, the Chinese gymnast and national hero who won 6 gold medals at the 1984 games in LA, and subsequently started his own sneaker company. Li Ning is the 3rd largest brand in China behind Nike and Adidas. The identity of the final torchbearer was kept hush hush, but leaked out during the day on Friday which sent Li Ning’s stock up 3.4%. That probably pales in comparison to the percent change in blood pressure at the marketing teams for the bigger brands when they saw the ceremony.

You can’t buy this kind of brand exposure folks. I don’t think that the impact on Li Ning’s business in China is terribly relevant here. But now the free world knows about the company and the brand. I still think that an emerging theme will be Chinese brands exporting content to developed countries. This just gave Li Ning a nice jump start.

If you have not seen it that part of the ceremony, check it out on You Tube. The rest of the world did…