Garmin International has formed a multi-year global partnership with NBA basketball superstar Yao Ming, who will play a key role in Garmin's branding, promotion, and advertising plans for 2005 and beyond.

“We're excited to welcome Yao Ming as the newest member of the Garmin team,” said Gary Kelley, Garmin's director of marketing. “His global appeal — coupled with his dynamic ability, solid work ethic, and humble personality — makes Yao a natural choice to help promote the Garmin brand and attract more consumers to our diverse line of consumer electronics.”

“I am very honored to represent Garmin,” said Yao, the Houston Rockets' 7- foot, 6-inch center. “I am excited by technology and I enjoy using high-tech electronics, so Garmin was a very natural fit for me.”

Yao will appear in a unified marketing campaign that is designed to build awareness of the Garmin brand as the premier integrator of GPS (Global Positioning System) enabled devices and a leading designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics. Garmin is a pioneer in developing innovative products for consumers — including the StreetPilot┬« line of portable and easy-to-use automotive navigators, the iQue┬« series of GPS-enabled PDAs for professionals-on-the-go, and the Forerunner(TM) family of wrist-worn GPS training gear for fitness enthusiasts.

Broadcast and print advertisements featuring the 25-year-old basketball phenomenon will begin appearing in mid-May 2005. The partnership will extend through 2007.

“As a respected leader in GPS and consumer electronics, Garmin is a company whose technology helps bring people together,” said Bill Sanders, vice president of marketing for BDA Sports Management and a member of Yao's management group, Team Yao. “In the same way, Yao has a dedicated worldwide fan following, so the partnership makes sense for everyone involved.”

Born and raised in Shanghai, Yao Ming began his NBA career in 2002 — the first-ever number one NBA draft pick to come from an international league. Since then, fans have voted Yao as a starter in every NBA All-Star Game. In the 2005 balloting, he received more votes in NBA history than any other player in a single season.