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Linsanity spreads to Volvo

By Li Fangfang (China Daily)

09:01, March 20, 2012

Linsanity is making its mark on business in the Chinese mainland.

Volvo Cars Corp, a vehicle manufacturer, is scheduled to announce on Tuesday that it has signed NBA star Jeremy Lin to an endorsement contract targeting China, the United States and Chinese-language markets in Asia.

Volvo was bought for $1.8 billion two years ago by the automobile producer Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd.

The deal will have Lin, whose parents are from Taiwan, act as Volvo Cars Brand Ambassador during the next two years. The Asian-American will also appear in Volvo advertisements in those markets. The company declined to say what Lin is being paid for the endorsements.

"Volvo Cars' choice of Lin as the company ambassador derives from our shared ethos of passion, dynamism and progressiveness," said Freeman Shen, president of Volvo Cars China. "This is a significant moment in the history of Volvo Cars' brand rejuvenation, showcasing the new Volvo brand strategy, 'Designed Around You', with sportsmanship and intelligence."

"We believe Lin's character, intelligence, perseverance and pursuit of excellence are perfectly in tune with Volvo car owners' characteristics of appreciating smart, understated luxury with a human touch," added Richard Monturo, vice-president of Marketing, Volvo Cars.

"The Lin endorsement will duly help Volvo further enhance its brand image and business performance globally, especially in the strategically important markets of China and the United States."

In 2011, the Swedish company's car sales in China, its second home market, increased by 55 percent to reach nearly 48,000 vehicles.

Lin, a point guard for the New York Knicks, has taken US basketball by storm and managed to quickly attract a devoted following among Chinese, especially the young. That has largely been the result of his meteoric rise from being an unknown benchwarmer to being an NBA star whose reputation was founded when he scored high point totals in seven consecutive games that the Knicks went on to win.

The likelihood that he would make a good subject for use in marketing and promotions quickly struck many Chinese companies, including Peak Sport Products Co Ltd, Qiaodan Sports Co Ltd and others in the sportswear industry.

David Liu, chairman of the public-relations consulting firm Weber Shandwick China and a professional in sports marketing, said the best celebrities to use in endorsements are those who share qualities with the products they are selling.

"The choice of an ambassador will also be a good one if the partnership can also lead to surprises and make a stir," said Liu.

In his view, the vehicle maker Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd's decision to hire the NBA superstar Kobe Bryant to be its brand ambassador in February last year has been an example of the successful use of such techniques.

"Bryant's passion, agility, wisdom, and creativity blend seamlessly with the smart spirit, and demonstrate to Chinese consumers the fresh, distinct philosophy of our 'Big, in the city' campaign," said Stefan Herbert, head of smart operations at Mercedes-Benz (China) Ltd.

You can contact the writer at [email protected]

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