SBD/March 12, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

U.S. Olympic Ice Dancing Team Hopes To Crossover, Find More Sponsors

Davis and White won the Silver Medal in the ’10 Vancouver Games
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win the world championships, “could alter the country’s current indifference to figure skating, particularly in the run-up to the Olympics, as sponsors begin to focus on finding their future athletic stars,” according to Jennifer Conlin in the style section of the N.Y. TIMES. The pair won the Silver Medal at the ’10 Vancouver Games, and “have their minds set on bringing home the gold” at the ‘14 Sochi Games. Many think the team might “finally bring the American figure skating world out of a lull that began the moment one Olympic champion, Michelle Kwan, hung up her skates.” Not only are the two “at the top of their sport, but they have the youthful good looks and easy assurance that would likely make them a marketer’s dream.” But so far they “have not been able to break through the public consciousness and evolve into crossover stars like such other winter Olympians as Bode Miller.” Designers Management Agency President Marc Beckman said, “This is an amazingly marketable couple who are talented. But to get endorsements they need to have a story to tell that helps them emotionally connect with the American Public.” He added, “I have never heard of them, and that is in itself a problem as they have won an Olympic medal. Clearly their agents or managers are not doing enough. It is not their sport that is unpopular, it is more about building a brand for them, and a platform.” IMG Olympic Clients Manager Hailey Ohnuki, who reps the pair, agrees that White and Davis are “probably not as well known as they should be, but says it is not for lack of trying, particularly when it comes to social media.” Ohnuki said that Davis is “active on Twitter, and that the skaters have a Facebook fan page.” Ohnuki: “They have no large endorsements at this point because it is a challenging time in the economy. But after the Summer Olympics we plan to get them out there more. They care about literacy issues and kids’ nutrition, so we try to reach out to companies who care about those issues as well.” Conlin noted one “recent chance to possibly enhance their public image -- or at least increase their exposure -- was left untaken.” White said, “ESPN asked us to pose nude for their ‘Body’ issue” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/11).
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