Linsanity’s Economic Power

Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin’s star keeps glowing outside basketball court

March 20, 2012

The Linsanity  –  the excitement over the unheralded Lin – started in February 2012 when Lin unexpectedly led a winning streak by New York Knicks while being promoted to the starting lineup. The Linsanity influence resonates beyond basketball court. It penetrates stock market, sales, and marketing. 

Linsanity: New York Knick's Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin is a Harvard-educated, undrafted point guard for the New York Knicks who seemingly emerged from nowhere to become an international phenomenon. He became a fan favorite in early 2012 after scoring at least 20 points in five straight games, all of them Knicks victories. He is also the first N.B.A. player to have at least 20 points and 7 assists in each of his first four starts. New York Knicks had a 7–0 record after Lin started receiving major playing time, 6–0 with him starting.

Since Linsanity breakout game through Friday, Madison Square Garden Co., parent of the Knicks, had seen its shares advance 13% since early February, compared with a 4.4% increase of the S&P over the same period.

Since Feb. 4 breakout game, sales at online Knicks-linked stores — which carry about 50 Lin-related items — have surged forty fold, while sales at the arena are up 70%, according to management, with Lin-related gear accounting for about half of online sales and about a third of in-arena sales.

Lin’s jersey has been the league’s top seller for well over a month, catapulting sales of Knicks team gear to the top spot. The Knicks held a 39% peak market share of the $3 billion National Basketball Association (NBA) merchandise market in the week ended Feb. 25, when Lin merchandise reached stores nationwide. Though demand has slowed since then, the Knicks are still No. 1, at about 26.5% of the market.

Riding Linsanity wave, on Monday, March 19, car company Volvo signed Lin to a global brand endorsement contract, with a focus on China, the U.S. and Chinese-language markets in Asia.

On Wednesday, March 14, the Knicks signed a marketing partnership deal with Taiwan-based PC maker Acer, the second Taiwanese company to partner with the Knicks in the past month. As part of the contract, Acer will place advertisements near the Knicks’ bench.

In late February, the New York Knicks and Taiwan-based tire company Maxxis International agreed on a marketing sponsorship, the Knicks’ first to capitalize the global success of point-guard Jeremy Lin. The partnership, which will run through the rest of this National Basketball Association season, allows Maxxis to advertise through courtside signs and advertisements on the scoreboard.

Nike's short-term investment in Jeremy Lin is ready to pay some long-term dividends. Like a futures bet on a Wall Street stock, the athletic giant had the foresight to sign Lin to a minor deal when he entered the NBA in 2010. Nike extended its endorsement pact with Lin in late February to stop him from being stolen by rival athletic sponsors. Nike then launched “Linsanity” T-shirts for sale at its own stores and at Foot Locker Inc. locations. Nike hopes to double its sales in China to $4 billion annually by 2015.

At the time this article is published, New York Knicks just made it four straight easy victories by beating the Toronto Raptors 106-87 on Tuesday night with Lin scored 18 points, behind Amare Stoudemire with 22 points.