SBD/February 14, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Lin's Sudden Rise Has Made Him Hottest Marketing Commodity In Pro Sports

Lin T-shirts sold out and now rank among top sellers on NBA.com
Ten days into Knicks G Jeremy Lin’s "rocket ride to fame there remains no playbook on containing the runaway popularity of the new hottest marketing commodity in pro sports," according to Morgan Campbell of the TORONTO STAR. That is "great news for the NBA, which hopes Lin ... can replace the retired Yao Ming as an ambassador to the lucrative Chinese market." It is also "wonderful news for the Knicks." Fuzion Marketing Group Founder & CEO Quency Phillips said, "All of the sponsors are going to pile on right now, especially as he’s riding this wave. There’s nobody else out there like him. It’s the perfect groundswell of everything." Campbell notes several varieties of Lin T-shirts and jerseys yesterday "remained sold out," and he had the "top selling T-shirt at NBA.com’s online store" (TORONTO STAR, 2/14). USA TODAY's Tom Pedulla notes Lin is Fathead's "No. 1 seller, overtaking" Patriots QB Tom Brady. Lin's agent Roger Montgomery said that endorsement deals are "pouring in" (USA TODAY, 2/14). ESPN's Kristi Dosh said she expected Lin to “get some deals” on the local level, but it is "far too soon to see a big, national company feature him in an advertisement, unless they’ve got a one-off spot they can do quickly to capitalize on this buzz” ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 2/13). N.Y.-based 5W Public Relations President & CEO Ronn Torossian: "If Jeremy Lin is the real deal on the court, expect him to be the most popular athlete marketer off the court for many years to come. This young man will be the face of the NBA -- and surely the face of many mainstream, major brands. ... Jeremy Lin is a marketer’s dream -- and to top it all off he is playing in the biggest media market in the world" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/14).

A CINDERELLA STORY: ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y.’s Spero Dedes said Lin's rise to stardom is "so improbable." Dedes: "This kid was a day away from being cut by the team. ... All the factors of it, you just feel like a Disney movie, like they went out and signed some kid off the street with his unexpected game. He’s completely reversed the fortunes of a franchise that’s been ... bankrupt and looking for an answer it seems like for the last 10 or fifteen years.” Dedes called the atmosphere at last Friday's Lakers-Knicks game at MSG "surreal." Dedes: "I was kind of looking out into the crowd, and looking at the expressions on the faces of the fans in the building and I saw one woman who looked like she was in tears. I saw other people hugging each other. ... It was completely surreal in every way to see what this kid was doing." Meanwhile, ESPN's Ric Bucher said, "I just hope that if he falls off a little bit that people aren’t going to go the other way, you know the classic build up, tear down” (“The Scott Van Pelt Show,” ESPN Radio, 2/13).

CATCHING COLBERT'S ATTENTION: Last night’s edition of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” featured host Stephen Colbert saying, “As much as I loves me the football, I cannot get enough of professional ball in hoop.” He noted, "Like all true New Yorkers right now, I am caught up in the tidal wave that is New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. This kid ... has singlehandedly done the unthinkable: Made people want to watch the New York Knicks.” Colbert said of broadcasters saying Lin “came out of nowhere” before playing with the Knicks, “Yes, he came out of nowhere, which is my nickname for Harvard.” Colbert said “Linsanity” has “caught the NBA off-guard: All the Jeremy Lin jerseys that were on the shelves sold out because there weren’t any." Colbert: "Best of all, Jeremy Lin here is currently without a corporate sponsor, which means he’s in the market for endorsement deals. So Mr. Lin, in the spirit of Linsanity, I hope you will consider endorsing my line of premium Lin-oleum tile.” The tile featured Lin’s face on them. Another product was “Jeremy Lint,” a plastic bag filled with lint. Colbert: “As we speak, I am drying socks and towels as fast as I can to meet, what I assume, will be heavy demand” (“The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central, 2/13).
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