ON N.J. SPORTS MARKETING
It has been yet another interesting week in the crucible of sport. While the New York Giants were celebrating their Super Bowl victory in the Canyon of Heroes, the hobbled New York Knicks had caught fire against some lesser opponents and an unlikely new star. Out of both have come some interesting marketing opportunities for a pair of ethnically diverse stars who appeal directly to the new breed of fans that the NFL and the NBA are looking to capture.
On the Giants side there is wide receiver Victor Cruz, rising from the streets of Paterson, N.J., undrafted out of the University of Massachusetts, almost cut in the preseason last year, and now fully emerged as the ultimate success story in the NFL, catching ball after ball from Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.
He speaks English and Spanish fluently, has a humble charm about him, can dance (we have all seen his salsa moves) and has already proven over the course of the season that his skills on the field match his marketing appeal off the field for the NFL champions. He even danced his way across the Grammy stage on Sunday night.
Then we have Jeremy Lin, who started his improbable run to success in a Knicks win over the Nets last weekend, and has followed that up with one impressive game after the next this past week. He is quiet, Asian-American, Harvard educated and has already shown leadership skills as a point guard that the Knicks had been lacking to that point, despite the presence of superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
His unusual background and his unlikely and meteoric rise to the limelight at Madison Square Garden has created a Tebow-like fervor in just a week, and his presence not just with an Asian background, but with an Asian American background, makes for very intriguing possibilities for the NBA as they continue to court that growing fan base and demo.
There are as many similarities as there are differences between the brands for Cruz and Lin. They have both arisen as undrafted surprises and have let their on-field success do the talking first. The fit the new mosaic of American society and are playing in the world’s largest media market. Their skills and size are not overstated and they appeal to the average and casual fan. They have not picked up any controversy and they have made their teams better and more fun thus far.