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Volvo Goes Linsane!

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On: Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 10:09AM | By: Chris Weiss


Volvo Goes Linsane!

Two things that have nothing in common: the safe, reliable car that your grandpa has been driving since 1961 and a basketball whirlwind that came out of nowhere to take the sport by storm over the period of a few weeks. At least they had nothing in common until this week. Volvo signed NBA star Jeremy Lin to a two-year agreement.

Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks point guard that rose to prominence last month, is one of the feel-good sports stories of this young year. He's earned a quick rise to fame in one of the notoriously tough New York media market.

In a story that's drawn comparison to Tim Tebow's improbable NFL run in Denver, Lin was an undrafted player that bounced between the NBA and D League since graduating from Harvard in 2010. When he got his chance to start for the Knicks in February, he took the bull by the horns and led the team to six straight victories, earning the nickname Linsanity.

Volvo signed Lin to a two-year stint as its brand ambassador. He will appear in marketing and at events for the automaker, with a focus on the US and Chinese markets.

It seems like Volvo was rather quick to jump the gun on a relatively long deal. While Lin had a very strong breakout month in February, it's still not clear if he's a legit all-star or a flash in the pan. The Knicks have struggled recently, dipping below .500. Their March start (six game losing streak) was nearly as poor as their February start was strong. Some bloggers and analysts are already opining that "Linsanity" is officially an antiquated phrase.

However, the move seems to be focused more on China and Chinese-language markets. And I anticipate that Lin's Chinese background will make him popular in those markets even if he doesn't prove a perennial all-star in the NBA. And the fact that he's a Harvard graduate also makes Lin an interesting NBA presence.

Kia has seemed to have success in appointing LA Clippers star Blake Griffin to a similar role. A Kia Optima starred prominently in Griffin's NBA Slam Dunk Contest win last year, and Griffin has been featured in a series of goofy commercials, adding a little fun to the brand. Griffin, though, is more of an established and reliable quantity in the NBA.




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