Marketers In Wait-And-See Mode Before Jumping To Sign Jeremy Lin To Brand
Retailers caught unprepared for Knicks G Jeremy Lin’s “sudden ascent have hustled to get Lin-branded merchandise on their shelves,” but the big money for Lin “isn't in shirts and caps; it's in his image and his staying power -- and what he and major sponsors can do with that,” according to Tiffany Hsu of the L.A. TIMES. Corporate marketers are “intrigued by the Lin phenomenon, but many are hesitant to offer major deals.” Univ. of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics Kenneth Shropshire said, "No one knows how long his moment is going to be and whether he's going to be worth a long-term investment.” He added, "Do you develop a shoe with his name now or settle for a more fleeting endorsement? This is all new, and companies need to see more to protect themselves from unpredictability." Hsu reports Dick's Sporting Goods stores “didn't have any Lin products until last week, when the chain got Lin-branded T-shirts, framed photos of Lin on the court, banners, towels and collector's coins in his name -- and more flows in each day.” Analysts said that Lin “may have the smarts to make money in innovative ways instead of jumping on the first limited-time, all-cash endorsement deal he's offered.” Marketing experts said that some companies may “try to nab Lin for smaller partnerships now to win his loyalty if he turns into a durable star.” Others may offer him “a contract with an escalator clause, which would limit their risk by tying Lin's benefits to his performance.” But sponsors such as Nike “won't be producing a Lin sneaker quite yet.” Nike PR Manager Jacie Prieto said that the company “recently launched a T-shirt featuring the ‘Linsanity’ catchphrase in Foot Locker stores.” Meanwhile, Hsu notes Taiwanese tour groups are “organizing trips to New York to see Lin play, including one package from Phoenix Tours that includes two Knicks games at the Garden in March” (L.A. TIMES, 2/24).
NIKE LOOKING AT CHINA PROSPECTS: Nike Brand President Charlie Denson said that the company was “already exploring ways to profit from its most unexpected celebrity in China.” Denson: “We’re developing plans as we speak. The fact he’s experiencing the kind of success he’s having now is a very, very pleasant surprise for us.” When asked if Lin’s Taiwanese background would affect Nike’s plans, Denson said: “We’ll see. We haven’t really got that far yet. All we know is that the kids who love basketball in China relate to Jeremy Lin” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/24).
GOING TO THE CRAFT FAIR: In N.Y., Mary Pilon noted online handmade marketplace Etsy.com is “among the crafters’ Web sites that has been brimming with Jeremy Lin goods beyond the normal sports jersey.” Knicks fans with a “penchant for embroidery are in luck, as Lin’s face can be found on” a photostitch machine embroidery design. There is also a Jeremy Lin bottle cap necklace, which reads “Bal-Lin, #17,” a Jeremy Lin iPhone case, a “selection of MacBook decals” and a Jeremy Lin wall clock (NYTIMES.com, 2/23).