Don’t feel bad for Knicks’ sensation Jeremy Lin just because he played poorly in the team’s Thursday night loss to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Lin will be the most discussed player during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando, and he’s not even playing in the game on Sunday. Among the signs that the Lin story remains red hot: Restaurants are naming food and drinks after him, a Lin biography and a Lin-themed sneaker are reportedly in the works, and businessmen the world over are dropping into conversation the idea of pulling “a Jeremy Lin.”
“In financial circles,” you see, according to the Los Angeles Times, “‘a Jeremy Lin’ is the term now being used to describe overlooked and underused investment opportunities.”
How hot is Jeremy Lin? The guy’s rookie card just sold for $21,850 on eBay. The NBA website’s “Pulse,” which tracks mentions of players on Twitter and Facebook, says that “Jeremy Lin” is popping up about 1,600 times per hour on social media sites. That’s at least four times as often as any other player in the league.
Lin has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the last two weeks—potentially, a problem for those who believe in “the SI curse”—and SI has even created a special web page tracking the last Lin-related news from around the world, with links to more than a dozen stories daily.
Naturally, many businesses and brands hope to get in on “Linsanity.” Restaurants and bars in Manhattan have added Lin-themed items to menus including Lin-burgers, Asian-spiced chicken “lings,” “Jeremy Lin-Mint” milk shakes, and drinks such as the “Lin and tonic” and the “Lintini.”
On a larger scale, both Nike and Adidas say they have big plans for Lin, reports MarketWatch. Nike has Lin under contract, and is “in development of a longer-range plan where we can leverage Jeremy and all the excitement that he’s created in the marketplace,” according to a company executive, while Adidas—owner of the NBA apparel license—will soon be selling “Linsanity” jerseys in 6,700 stores in China. Speaking of “Linsanity,” a battle has erupted over who gets to trademark (and make money) off the phrase.
The Hachette Book Group says that it’ll be publishing a book about Lin in May titled Jeremy Lin: The Reason for the Linsanity. Some entrepreneurial types have already beat the publishing house to the punch, with self-published Lin e-books for sale at Amazon.
As for a Lin sneaker, Nike supposedly has one in the works that’ll be available in a month or so. It won’t be a signature shoe like the ones made for LeBron James or Kevin Durant, though, reports Forbes. Instead, the sneaker be a variation on an existing Nike shoe, with the additions of Knicks’ orange and blue colors and Lin’s #17 number.
Why would Nike settle for a half-hearted attempt at a Lin sneaker? For one thing, it wants to get something on the market quickly to take advantage of Linsanity right now. Creating a new shoe from the ground up can take months, if not years.
Also, the Lin phenomenon is still less than a month old, and it may prove to be fleeting. Several marketing experts quoted by the LA Times expressed skepticism about Linsanity in the long run:
“No one knows how long his moment is going to be and whether he’s going to be worth a long-term investment,” said Kenneth L. Shropshire, a sports business and law expert and professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “Do you develop a shoe with his name now or settle for a more fleeting endorsement? This is all new, and companies need to see more to protect themselves from unpredictability.”
In other words, this isn’t a 100% safe (groan) “Linvestment.”