Coke Plans Courtside Ads Targeting Lin Fans In China

fromWNYC

New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin went from bench-warmer to basketball superstar in the space of a few months, and global brands are trying to capitalize on the excitement. Coca-Cola now plans to use Lin's popularity to connect with Chinese consumers. Ilya Marritz of WNYC reports.

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Major corporations are working to capitalize on the success of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin - his rise fm back-bencher to superstar. This week the carmaker Volvo signed Lin as a spokesman.

And as Ilya Marritz of WNYC reports, Coca-Cola now plans to use Lin's popularity to connect with Chinese consumers.

ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: You can think of Coke's campaign as long-distance messaging. Since Jeremy Lin burst onto the scene, he's won legions of fans in China and Taiwan. They love seeing a Chinese-American sink hoops. But because it's in English, a lot of the court-side advertising at Madison Square Garden is lost on them - which got executives at one major Knicks sponsor thinking about the possibilities.

Susan Stribling is a spokesperson for Coca-Cola.

SUSAN STRIBLING: Some of the advertising messaging that we have in the Garden that's currently in English, we're looking to supplement that with similar advertisements that would be translated into Mandarin.

MARRITZ: By early April, Stribling says, you'll see court-side messages in Chinese, probably for Coke's sister brand, Sprite.

Mark O'Brien is an executive with the advertising firm DDB. He's spent years helping multinationals connect with a new generation of consumers in China.

MARK O'BRIEN: For a global marketer like Coca-Cola, you've expanded your audience reach from maybe amounts that are in the millions to amounts that are in the tens to hundreds of millions.

MARRITZ: This isn't the first time a company has effectively put up a billboard halfway around the globe, hoping to get noticed. Japanese companies sometimes advertise at Seattle Mariners games, targeting fans of outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. But with a population 10 times that of Japan, China - and its Jeremy Lin fans - are a much bigger prize.

For NPR News, I'm Ilya Marritz in New York.

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