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Nicolas Cage hired by China¡¯s BAIC Motor to promote Senova cars

Bloomberg News (Beijing) - Actor Nicolas Cage has signed on as brand ambassador for Chinese automaker BAIC Motor Corp., joining Brad Pitt and Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi in promoting automobiles in the world¡¯s largest vehicle market.

Cage will appear in a television commercial to be aired in May, according to Beijing-based BAIC Motor. The state-owned automaker said it chose the 49-year-old Academy Award winner as its brand spokesman because he's well-known to Chinese audiences, especially target buyers in their 40s.

"Cage will be our ambassador for the Senova D series that will hit the market soon," Alex Qu, a spokesman for the company, said by phone today. Qu declined to provide more details on the events that Cage will attend in China.

BAIC, whose parent traces its roots to making sidecar motorcycles used in the Korean War, is stepping up publicity as it prepares to roll out its Senova brand in the second quarter. The automaker is also targeting sales to senior government officials, with Beijing municipal Party Secretary Guo Jinlong and Mayor Wang Anshun expressing interesting in replacing their Audi sedans, BAIC's overseas business head Dong Haiyang said.

Cage, currently the voice of a caveman in the animated film "The Croods," won an Oscar for his performance in "Leaving Las Vegas" and has also starred in movies such as "Drive Angry."

General Motors Co. (GM) signed up Pitt in January to promote its China-made Cadillac XTS, while Chery Automobile Co. hired Barcelona soccer player Messi in 2010 to pitch their Riich brand cars. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.¡¯s Volvo Cars entered an endorsement deal with Houston Rockets player Jeremy Lin last year.

BAIC Motor's parent has said it is seeking an initial share sale for the car unit in Hong Kong and mainland China.

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