SBD/August 7, 2012/Olympics

Has Lolo Jones Become A Star Because Of Athleticism Or Marketability?

Jones has appeared in ads for P&G, McDonald’s, BP and Oakley
The U.S.’ Lolo Jones this afternoon will be going for the Gold in the 100-meter hurdles, and with all the “media attention she’s been receiving, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was favored to win the 100-meter hurdles when in fact, she’s not,” according to CBS’ Bigad Shaban. The “publicity surrounding the Lolo Jones brand is everywhere,” as she has appeared in ads for P&G, McDonald’s, BP and Oakley and has appeared on numerous magazine covers. SI’s David Epstein said a “part of Lolo’s allure is that she’s physically beautiful and that she’s very open about her personal life.” Epstein: “The U.S. team has the reigning Olympic champion who is in the shadow of someone who barely made the U.S. team, and it throws into really stark relief this issue of athletic competence versus having a push from your sponsors and being willing to pose in various ways.” Consulting Group Founder Dan Migala said, “We’re still talking about one of the best track and field athletes in the world. She’s just not the best. But what she is the best at is getting attention, and at the end of the day from a marketing perspective, what athletes want to do is get attention because brands need that attention to have the conversation with the consumers. She’s clearly showing she knows how to do that” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 8/6).

KEEPING UP WITH JONES: FOXSPORTS.com's Greg Couch writes it is true that Jones, who finished seventh in the ’08 Beijing Games, and her endorsers "have been a little too obvious about building an image." Public feelings mostly "are positive about her, but now there is an unmistakable anti-Jones undercurrent, a backlash from cities and athletes." Some people "have had enough of Jones, and the months of Jones buildup leading into the Olympics." Couch: "I do get that Jones is self-promoting all the time. What I don't get is why that bothers people. Sexism? Jealousy?" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/7). The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola wrote on his Twitter account, "I don't get it, Lolo Jones is supposed to turn down endorsement deals because other track runners don't get any. Seriously? ... For one, Lolo is good enough to make the Olympic team. Secondly, she looks good. That usually equals endorsements" (TWITTER.com, 8/7). SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote if Jones "wasn't H-O-T, she might as well be rowing for Burma." Among her "many skills is marketing, and she has preened her way to the top of the Olympic medal stand" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/6). In Melbourne, Michael Gleeson writes Jones is “very attractive and has thus been called the Anna Kournikova of athletics, for her profile until now has outstripped her achievements compared to her teammates.” Jones has “seven large sponsors,” compared to one for teammate Dawn Harper, the reigning Olympic champion (Melbourne AGE, 8/7). In St. Louis, Vahe Gregorian writes under the header "Lolo Jones' Toughest Hurdles Come In Image Control" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/7).
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