It's good to be Rakuten. The Japanese e-commerce company, commonly referred to as "the Amazon of Japan," is branching out into new markets. And it is using one of the most valuable forms of advertisements possible: sports jerseys.

Last November, Rakuten signed a deal with FC Barcelona to become the club's main jersey sponsor starting with the 2017-18 season. Last week, Rakuten announced it will be the inaugural jersey sponsor for the Golden State Warriors, as the NBA is permitting third-party uniform sponsorship for the first time in 2017-18. The Barcelona deal is worth $262.1 million for four years and the Warriors' deal is estimated at $60 million for three years. The two franchises ranked No. 4 and No. 20, respectively, on Forbes' "The 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams 2017," published in July.

Speaking with ThePostGame at the Portada17 conference Wednesday in New York City, Rahul Kadavakolu, executive director of global and group marketing and branding at Rakuten Inc., explained some of the reasoning behind the company's madness. From the business side, Rakuten is putting the parent brand's name in front of its subsidiaries. For example, the cashback website headquartered in San Francisco, Ebates, is going to become Rakuten Ebates.

"For us to go through this whole brand unification exercise, it's not a simple exercise that you just change the logo and you go on," Kadavakolu says. "It calls for huge brand transformation and bring everything together as one thing. We need very, very strong assets that help us through this journey. Various brands look at different ways of doing it. We thought sports was an untapped area. None of our competitors within the internet services business are in sports. We felt it would be a much better platform. For us, the most important thing is philosophy when we pick which team or club we want to partner with. I think we picked the two best properties in the world."

Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has been eager to share jersey imagery on his social media accounts:


Rakuten is now a sponsor Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, just to name a few of the players on the Warriors and FC Barcelona. Although the two clubs are on different continents, could a dual-partnership be in the works?

"There's a lot of opportunity in terms of how can we leverage both these champion teams in order to create something very cool," Kadavakolu says. "It's definitely something we're exploring and it will be part of our plan."

FC Barcelona has already begun its first season with the Rakuten name on its uniform. The Warriors open their preseason and the era of Rakuten jerseys on Sept. 30 at Oracle Arena. The Warriors' practice facility will also now be renamed "The Rakuten Performance Center" as part of the deal.

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