Michael Phelps inks China endorsement

U.S. swimmer's Mazda deal in the seven-figure range

Fourteen-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is returning to China, this time as a brand spokesman.

The record-breaking U.S. swimmer and Beijing Games sensation has signed a deal with DMG Entertainment, a division of China-based media, lobbying and entertainment group DMG, to become the brand spokesperson for Mazda in China.

The sponsorship, which is China-only and does not include Hong Kong, is in the seven-figure range and could be the largest single sponsorship deal for a Western celebrity in China's history.

Phelps will exclusively endorse the new Mazda 6 model in a series of ad campaigns that includes TV commercials, newspaper and magazine ads as well as outdoor poster advertising and personal appearances.

The campaign, created by DMG advertising division D3, will be unveiled in Greater China in first-half 2009.

DMG CEO Dan Mintz said the deal demonstrates the resiliency of China's advertising economy. He added that the nation was looking more to elite personalities to endorse domestic and international brands.

Los Angeles-based DMG Entertainment aims to foster entertainment development between China and Hollywood. The company is working on a China film fund via its governmental lobbying division.

Phelps is repped by Octagon.