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Kobe Bryant Taking His Hoops, Marketing Skills To Turkish Airlines

Artist's rendition depicting the deal between Bryant and Turkish Air. (Photo: PRNewswire/Turkish Airlines/Jeff Gross)December 14, 2010: Turkish Airlines, which has been ramping up its presence in the U.S. over the past few years, has signed a deal with Kobe Bryant of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers to support the carrier's upcoming expansion into Los Angeles International Airport.

Financial terms of the two-year deal were not disclosed.

Bryant will be the focus of a global ad campaign scheduled to break during the first quarter of 2011 in the U.S. and the Middle East, followed by a rollout to more than 80 countries. The campaign, oversee by Turkish Airlines, will be anchored by a TV spot starring Bryant, with support to include print, outdoor and Internet. Bryant is also scheduled to make several appearances on behalf of Turkish Airlines in the coming year, including for the planned Los Angeles launch.

Turkish Airlines will offer four flights per week from Los Angeles’ LAX Airport to Atatürk Airport in Istanbul beginning March 3, 2011. In North America, the carrier currently offers non-stop direct flights from New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Toronto.

“I’m so proud to be chosen as a global brand ambassador for Turkish Airlines," Bryant said in a statement. "They have been providing travelers with excellent service for 77 years, and I’m glad that U.S. travelers, including my fellow Angelenos, are able to experience Turkish Airlines first-hand."

Bryant is among the most popular basketball players around the world, with sales of his jerseys and basketball shoes at or near the top of most international NBA sales. He was part of the gold medal winning team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and will be on the roster for USA Basketball at the 2012 Summer Games in London. His marketing deals also include Nike, 2K Sports and Gatorade. He appeared in the recent marketing launch for Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Turkish Airlines also has sports deals with Manchester United, FC Barcelona and the European Euroleague Basketball. The carrier also was the official airline of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which was won by the U.S. (although Bryant was not a member of the team).

"I’m glad that U.S. travelers, including my fellow Angelenos, are able to experience Turkish Airlines first-hand." — Kobe Bryant

“We are looking forward to working with Mr. Bryant to further build awareness of Turkish Airlines in the United States and around the world,” Dr. Temel Kotil, CEO of Turkish Airlines, said in a statement.  “Next year Turkish Airlines will operate four U.S. gateways: New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.  We could not be more thrilled to have an athlete of Mr. Bryant’s unsurpassed skill and recognition to represent our brand globally.”

According to Bryant, “Turkey is a country rich in natural beauty and thousands of years of cultural history, and I’m proud to partner with Turkish Airlines to bring that majesty to people around the world.”

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