Kobe Bryant signed a three-year deal with Mercedes-Benz on Feb. 17 to promote the Smart micro car to consumers in China where he is more popular than Yao Ming. As part of the deal, Kobe will appear in a new Smart TV commercial themed "big, in the city" and directed by Dave Meyers specifically for the Chinese audiences; a visit to the country before the year-end is also planned.
Kobe has frequented China in recent years to not only play and sell things but promote charitable and educational causes. Last year, he was awarded by the Asia Society for being "a cultural ambassador," and "The Kobe Bryant China Foundation" opened in Beijing to help kids from low-income families in both China and the US (its first donation, of 5 million Yuan, went to children affected by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake).
While sinking elsewhere, especially in the US, Smart sales jumped 119% from 2009 to approached 4,000 units in China last year.