Volvo wooing NBA star Jeremy Lin for endorsement deal
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The luxury car segment has been booming with the strong Chinese economy and since being acquired by Chinese firm Geely in 2010, Volvo hasn’t had the impact is what has technically become its home market of China since Geely took over. However, the Volvo management team believes that having a celebrity spokesman like Jeremy Lin, (who is an American born citizen of the US but is of direct Chinese descent) could help bring attention to the Volvo brand through the growing popularity of the NBA.
Jeremy Lin is the first American born NBA player of Chinese descent but he isn’t the first “Chinese” player to make a big impact on the pro basketball ranks. Yao Ming, the 7’6” giant who retired from the Houston Rockets after a successful 14 year career, was the first Chinese player to play in the NBA, helping to kick off the success of the American sport in China. Ming became a huge celebrity in China and Jeremy Lin is following in his footsteps after emerging into the NBA spotlight earlier this year. Along with becoming a hero to New York Knicks fans, Jeremy Lin has become a major celebrity in China – a fact that Volvo hopes will help their brand garner more attention with Lin’s help.
One more interesting aspect that has bolstered Jeremy Lin’s popularity in both the US and China is his difficult rise to his current level of success – another angle that Volvo could use in Lin’s endorsement deal. Jeremy Lin grew up in the Los Angeles area and although he was a successful high school basketball player leading his team to a state championship, Lin did not receive a single Division 1 basketball scholarship offer. Devoid of a free ride to a “basketball school”, Lin instead applied to and was accepted to Harvard University – where he proved to be a major contributor to the success of their basketball program. Lin went on to graduate from Harvard in 2010 (with a 3.1 GPA) but when the NBA draft day came, Lin was once again ignored. He was able to sign with the Golden State Warriors as an undrafted free agent but played little before being cut and signed twice on his way to landing with the New York Knicks. Even in New York he didn’t get much playing time but once he got his chance in February, he made the most of it as he has become one of the team’s go-to guys.
The fact that Jeremy Lin has overcome so much to become the NBA celebrity that he is, backed exclusively by hard work and determination, could be a great marketing tool for Volvo in China as parent company Geely works to improve the Swedish automakers placement in the Chinese auto industry.
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