Value of Athletic Endorsements And How It Is Affected By Olympic Performance

Value of Athletic Endorsements And How It Is Affected By Olympic Performance

Olympic athletes like Lolo Jones have secured huge sponsorship deals. But they must perform in these games to hold on to the spotlight.

One minute, Michael Phelps is grasping his record haul of medals won at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; the next, he’s wrapping his huge hands around Subway sandwiches in commercials for the fast food company.

It seemed as if Apolo Ohno speed-skated his way directly from the short-tracks of three straight Winter Olympics… to the nearest television screen as an endorser for a variety of A-list products (not to mention that whole “Dancing With The Stars” thing).

Race, skate or swim your way to the top of the Olympic medal stand, and it won’t just be your country’s national anthem that will ring in your ears; company endorsement pitches and phone calls from agents await, too. If you’re already a gold medalist and participating in your second or third games, the TV commercials and print ads – and subsequent paychecks – can really start to pile up.

And then there’s the tale of Dan O’Brien and the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Remember the “Dan and Dave” commercials from Reebok leading up to the Barcelona Games? O’Brien and fellow decathlete Dave Johnson were supposed to battle for the gold; the ads memorably spotlighted the friendly rivalry. But O’Brien, leading the event going into the pole vault, failed to clear the bar in three tries and dropped to 12th place. Johnson would end up winning the bronze.

Granted, O’Brien would acquit himself nicely in 1996 by winning the gold in Atlanta.

But Reebok had to spend money to reshoot ads after Barcelona to reflect the less-than-Olympic ending to the “Dan and Dave” story. Other companies that may have had Dan’s agent on speed-dial before Barcelona probably had second thoughts.

Those companies can truly leverage the spirit of competition by featuring athletes favored to win big. But stars in the marketing spotlight have to do their part if they hope to rack up endorsements that can help pay for training for their next shot at the games – or just to cash in after the Olympic flame is extinguished.

CI-Group, a New Jersey advertising agency, provides digital marketing and advertising consulting to Fortune 2000 companies in a wide range of industries. Founded nearly 30 years ago and based in Whitehouse, N.J., CI-Group is recognized as a top advertising agency specializing in marketing strategies, event marketing, promotions, direct marketing, digital printing, warehousing and fulfillment. Companies seeking an award-winning interactive agency that merges creative strategies with effective tactics should call 908-534-6100 or visit

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