Lenovo, which acquired IBM's PC business in 2005, has the rights to use the IBM brand name on its products until 2010, but is not allowed to use it in marketing campaigns. Lenovo needs to forge its own brand identity globally while also diminishing customers' association of it as a Chinese brand.
Partnering with the NBA enables Lenovo to broaden its brand association in the U.S. via a means that is familiar to and well-esteemed in China, which is fast developing its own professional basketball leagues and culture. The deal gives Lenovo marketing rights in both countries.
In turn, the NBA will incorporate Lenovo products into all facets of the league's operations: Lenovo computers will be featured at the courtside Official Scorer's Table, NBA referees will use Lenovo PCs to review and track their judgment calls, and NBA statisticians will use Lenovo laptops to report each game's statistics to the NBA.com Web site.
The proprietary Lenovo Stat will be a metric evaluating an individual or group of players' effect on the team's performance. It will be launched on Oct. 31, the start of the 2006-07 NBA season.
"From expanding opportunities to enhancing the audience experience to improving team performance, Lenovo and the NBA will build the foundation for the next generation of basketball," said Deepak Advani, SVP and CMO of Lenovo, in a statement announcing the deal. Lenovo is the world's third-largest PC maker, after Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc.