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‘King Felix’ to pitch Kinesio

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Major League pitcher is throwing his name behind an Albuquerque-based company.

The Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez – aka “King Felix” – is the new face of Kinesio Tape, an Albuquerque-made therapeutic product that has become particularly popular among athletes. Kinesio Holding Corp. recently announced the endorsement deal, which will include use of Hernandez’s image on retail tape packages, the company website, brochures and other marketing materials. Instructional videos for the product will feature Hernandez being taped.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Kinesio Holding Corp. maintains its headquarters and manufacturing operations in Albuquerque and employs about 40 people.

The tape and its application specifications (“Kinesio Taping Method”) were invented by the company president and founder, Kenzo Kase, a chiropractor.

Venezuela-born Hernandez – named this week to his sixth All-Star game – becomes the first professional athlete in North America to officially endorse the tape, although the colorful strips used to treat anything from nagging sports injuries to neurological conditions has been spotted on the shoulders and knees of many famous jocks in recent years.

While that can serve as a compelling advertisement in its own right, it was time to take promotion a step further.

“Kinesio has been around for 36 years now and continues to be the market leader in the therapeutic, elastic taping industry,” Kinesio’s Jeff Baskett, sales and public-relations development manager, said in an email to the Journal . “To maintain this position in our industry, we must have creative ways to promote our brand and create more awareness for the Kinesio name. Having ‘King Felix’ Hernandez as an endorser of our products will show that the efficacy of the tape works for a professional athlete, so why not for the general populace?”

Hernandez and his agent approached Kinesio on a possible endorsement deal about two years ago, according to information provided by Kinesio’s Baskett and Jason Grohoske. The tape has been used in the Seattle Mariners training room, they said.