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SBD Global/July 19, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Experts Believe Rockets In Best Position To Take Advantage Of Lin's Marketing Potential

The NBA's Houston Rockets plan to market Jeremy Lin in China much like Yao Ming.
NBA's Houston Rockets player Jeremy Lin's marketing potential is "best cultivated" by his new team, whose past experiences with Chinese player Yao Ming has them "better positioned and prepared" than any other NBA franchise to "reap a financial windfall from Asia," according to Scott Soshnick of BLOOMBERG. Former Rockets CEO George Postolos believes that because of Houston's work with six-time NBA All-Star Yao, the Rockets and Lin, the first Taiwanese- or Chinese-American to play in the league, "have the underpinnings and understanding to seize marketing dollars from the world's most populous nation." Postolos said, "It takes a consistent effort over time to figure China out. You need to know the market and the key players, the companies that are most interested in developing a relationship with a sports team. The Rockets have been at it a very long time." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard said, "Building meaningful business relationships in China takes years. Houston's history with Yao put them well ahead of any other NBA team's ability to leverage another athlete with appeal in that market" (BLOOMBERG., 7/18).

MARKETING BONANZA: In Houston, Jonathan Feigen wrote the acquisition of Lin “could be a marketing bonanza for the Rockets just as they are launching a new television network while undergoing a radical overhaul of the roster.” But the goal is “not to replace Yaomania with Linsanity.” The Rockets “would benefit from Lin’s great popularity, especially within the Asian community and with Chinese sponsorships, but more immediately, the team needs a point guard” (, 7/17). ESPN's Darren Rovell noted the Rockets “need to sell seats, and we know that there are a ton of Asian-Americans in Houston.” That demo has been “gone from Rockets games for the most part” since Yao retired. Rovell: “One factor that no one’s mentioned so far is that [Rockets Owner] Les Alexander has developed some business in China since Yao came to the Rockets. It makes it a little bit better for him now to have Jeremy Lin” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 7/17). NBA TV’s Brevin Knight said of the Rockets, "They need a face to their franchise, they now have that face. ... It’s a big gamble, but it’s a good gamble for the Rockets. They are re-starting their organization. They needed some type of hype going into this year” (“NBA GameTime,” NBA TV, 7/17).

STORES READY TO STOCK UP: In Houston, Randy Harvey wrote, “Score one for sporting goods stores in Houston.” When Lin “became the overnight sensation in New York last season, sales of Knicks goods, mostly his jerseys and T-shirts, increased by, oh, about 3,000 percent.” His jersey in February and March “was the hottest-selling one in the NBA.” In a one-year period between April ‘11-April ‘12, his jerseys “sold more than any other NBA’s player” except for Bulls G Derrick Rose. And Lin “didn’t even play for about 10 months of that time.” A Houston-area Sports Authority employee said, “Obviously, this is going to be a big plus for us. Now it’s the scramble to get the jerseys in.” The employee also said that it “could take three or four days or two weeks depending on how quickly they could be manufactured and shipped.” Harvey: “I would guess there’s a rush order on them” (, 7/17). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Christian Red notes business owners like Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO Mitch Modell “are lamenting Linsanity’s end.” Modell said that fans “will have a ‘field day’ starting Wednesday, when the roughly 40,000 Lin-related items sold at the chain will have prices slashed significantly” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18).
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