SBD/Issue 219/Olympics

Olympic Gymnast, Agent Work As Team To Appeal To Sponsors

Agent Helps Liukin Beef Up Endorsement 
Portfolio Ahead Of Beijing Olympics
U.S. gymnast Nastia Liukin, her agent, Premier Management Group's Evan Morgenstein, and her sponsorships are profiled in N.Y. TIMES' PLAY magazine by Mimi Swartz, who notes Morgenstein and Liukin's relationship is "less like that of a parent and child and closer to that of a big brother and kid sister." Morgenstein: "So many of these athletes have sports psychiatrists, and that's my role with her. Agent, confidant, friend, business manager, adviser -- I feel like I hold a lot of hats with her, and that's what makes our relationship special." Swartz reports Morgenstein's first deal with Liukin was with AT&T that includes print and online ads through '08. It is considered a "wait-and-see arrangement typical of sponsors that don't want to sign long-term agreements until their athletes prove themselves at the Games." Morgenstein: "Nastia lives the perfect AT&T life. She's always e-mailing on her iPhone or BlackBerry, or calling her friends. She's using thousands of minutes a month, and if you're AT&T, could there be anyone better?" AT&T VP/Brand Sponsorships Jamie Butcher: "Liukin is very on-brand for AT&T. When you think Nastia, you think winner, hope, spirit, class act. We want people to think of AT&T that way." Swartz notes after signing the AT&T deal, Morgenstein "negotiated a deal with Adidas, that, like [Liukin's] Visa contract, stretches through 2008, and a more lucrative renewal of her contract with a company called GK Elite Sportswear, which makes a signature line of Liukin leotards." Morgenstein also "suggested new ways in which to expand the Nastia franchise; a pink balance beam and matching hand weights, autographed by Liukin, for a division of Spalding called American Athletic Inc. (AAI), and an appearance on the package of the Sega Olympics video game." In addition to the aforementioned sponsorship pacts, Liukin also has deals with CoverGirl makeup, Secret deodorant and Vanilla Star jeans. Meanwhile, Morgenstein "wants to find a health-care provider or a packaged-food company that Liukin can work with to encourage healthy eating among kids" -- he has a Liukin-branded "energy drink for young women in mind and a motivational-speaking tour aimed at tweens" (PLAY, 8/ '08 issue).

Torres Inks Multi-Million Dollar, Two-Book Deal
With Random House's Broadway Books
MAKING A SPLASH: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle reports U.S. swimmer Dara Torres has "already made a big splash, signing a multimillion-dollar two-book deal with Random House's Broadway Books." The deal will have Torres, who at 41 years old is the oldest female swimmer in Olympic history, "write a memoir for a spring 2009 release and a fitness guide for publication in early 2011." Industry sources "pegged the combined advance and marketing commitment against both books at $3[M]." Morgenstein, who also reps Torres, said, "We've created a longevity to Dara's story. That creates a lot of opportunities to sell beyond the publication." Mickle notes the books were "acquired by Broadway's editor-in-chief, Stacy Creamer, who previously edited Lance Armstrong's best-selling books 'It's Not About the Bike' and 'Every Second Counts.'" Creamer will "edit the Torres books, as well" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/4 issue).

HAMM WILL STILL BE FEATURED: Even though U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm pulled out of the Beijing Games last week, he has not been forgotten by his key sponsors. Visa has developed a 30-second spot and a Web film starring Hamm, and he is also a key part of the TOP sponsor's "Go World" Web presentation. All commercial spots are expected to run as planned online; apparently they were not definitely set for over-the-air TV. And Visa's "Go World" video will not be altered either. There had been talk that Hamm would be in Beijing after the men's gymnastics competition, as many of his sponsors sought him for hospitality purposes. But his agent, Shade Global's Sheryl Shade, said today that Hamm will stay stateside to prepare for the post-Olympic gymnastics tour. Along with Visa, Hamm also has deals with Johnson & Johnson, Chevron, Hilton, adidas, GK Elite Sportswear and the American Dairy Association for its "Got Milk?" campaign (Jay Weiner, THE DAILY).

ALREADY LOOKING TO LONDON: In N.Y., Holly Sanders reports Visa is "already evaluating its lineup of athletes for London in 2012," as marketers "will start working the phones as soon as Beijing is over." Q Sports Founder Patrick Quinn: "Within two weeks of Beijing, we will have done our first outreach. You have companies that laugh, but you have to do it." Octagon's Peter Carlisle, who reps several Olympians including swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff, said, "A lot of what you see -- the positioning and the developing of the athletes' images for corporate interests -- is done well in advance of the Games. I'm less interested in signing an athlete after they do well at the Games." Octagon is "looking to prolong the spotlight" for Phelps and Hoff, each considered favorites to win several gold medals, as it is "planning a sponsored media tour for the pair and the firm's other Olympians as soon as the Games wind down" (N.Y. POST, 8/4).

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