SBD/August 14, 2012/Olympics

Usain Bolt Heads The List Of Olympians Most Likely To Cash In Following London

Marketers' desire for Bolt should continue to grow following his London exploits
brandRapport Sport Marketing Dir Nigel Currie said Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is “far and away heads above everybody else” in terms of marketability and earning potential coming out of the London Games. Currie said Bolt, who is the only man to win Gold Medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 100-meter relay in successive Olympics, could earn approximately $23.5M a year off the track. Bolt has not yet decided whether he will race in the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games, but Currie said, “The secret is to not announce your retirement whether you intend to go on to the next Olympics or not, you keep the mystery alive. There’ll be lots of speculation and everything can keep going for another four years” (“Worldwide Exchange,” CNBC, 8/13). Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Creative Dir Bob Dorfman in his Summer Olympics Sports Marketers’ Scouting Report noted U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps is the “most medaled Olympian,” but Bolt is the “most marketable.” Bolt's three Gold Medals in London “secured his status as the World’s Fastest Human, and could be worth an additional $3-5M in annual endorsement income.” Bolt’s “crowd-pleasing charisma, showmanship and Ali-esque bravado are a refreshing change from the stiff, toe-the-line intensity of most other Olympic athletes." Meanwhile, Gold Medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas “comes home as America’s most marketable female Olympian,” and she will be “hard to miss in the next few months.” U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte “can’t beat Phelps in medals, but easily wins in looks.” And combined with his “easy-going, surfer dude personality -- and unguarded accessibility -- Lochte’s a marketers’ dreamboat” (THE DAILY). Sheryl Shade, Douglas’ agent, said Douglas has already gotten several endorsement offers. Shade: "We’ve got book deals, movie deals, consumer products, the fashion industry, which is usually a hard one to crack.” NBC's Chris Jansing noted Douglas’ “recognizability is through the roof” and Shade “estimates Gabby could make” $2-3M this year ("Nightly News," NBC, 8/13). 

REAPING THE GOLD: N.Y.-based sports marketing firm Skylight Entertainment President Robert Tuchman said that U.S. Gold Medal-winning gymnast Aly Raisman probably has the highest potential of any Boston-area Olympian "to earn big money with endorsement deals.” Tuchman said, “She’s in the perfect demographic, too: She seems like a family-type girl, with not a lot of risk involved. She has a huge upside.” In Boston, Dan Adams reports Raisman has “retained the same top sports marketing team used by popular swimmer Michael Phelps, Virginia-based Octagon.” Raisman’s coach Mihai Brestyan said, “I would just tell her, ‘You are on top of the world, you are an Olympic gold medalist, you have the momentum -- use it before it’s gone.’” Meanwhile, Kayla Harrison, the first American to win a Gold Medal in judo, can “expect a much smaller payday, partly because her sport is much less known.” Harrison’s coach Jimmy Pedro said that Harrison has “yet to receive any major offers," but that she plans to "strategize with advisers this week.” Pedro acknowledged that it will be “tougher to find endorsements as a judo champion than as a teen gymnast.” Pedro: “Certainly, she’s not a multimillion dollar commodity, but at the same time, I think somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000 to $250,000 is a realistic opportunity for her” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/14).

GREAT OPPORTUNITIES IN BRITAIN: In London, Jerome Taylor writes Great Britain is “in love with its sporting heroes and advertisers are desperate to get in on the action while the euphoria still lasts.” British Gold Medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who already has a deal with P&G, looks “set to continue being ‘the face of the Games.’” The same “goes for other Olympic veterans such as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Ben Ainslie, who have proven that they can win medals at multiple Olympics.” But brands will be “equally keen to sign up comparatively new heavy hitters such as Mo Farah, Laura Trott, Katherine Grainger, Gemma Gibbons and Jade Jones.” Advertising agency Inferno Exec Creative Dir Owen Lee said, "I think the women will do particularly well. It's been a very female-focused Games. A few weeks ago they might have walked down Oxford Street unnoticed" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/14). In London, Kevin Eason reported Farah, who won both the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, has "unlocked the safe to riches that will be worth at least [US$3.14M] in endorsements and appearance fees over the next year." Farah also is "likely to find himself at the centre of a bidding war among organisers of marathons around the world, including London, who will want to lure the biggest draw in distance running to put some Olympic gloss on their events" (LONDON TIMES, 8/13).

WAIT UNTIL WINTER, CANADA: Canada landed just one Gold Medal during the Games, and the CP’s Linda Nguyen wrote it is "unlikely” any Canadian Olympians will be “cashing in on their Summer Games success.” A “lack of public interest in amateur sports that are so revered during the Olympics -- like diving, kayaking and gymnastics -- has historically resulted in corporate Canada passing over Olympians, even ones with gold medals hanging from their necks” (CP, 8/13).

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Emily Steel writes Olympic athletes are “hoping to extend their peak period for endorsement earnings through their increased popularity on social media.” An athlete’s following on social media sites has “quickly become key in determining” endorsement deals. Steel notes athletes are “not permitted to mention sponsors on social media without a special waiver until a period surrounding the Games" expires tomorrow. Marketers that endorse Olympic athletes “are expected to release a flurry of ads to congratulate athletes when that blackout period ends.” Athletes also are “expected to hit social media, thanking their sponsors.” Pace Sports Management Dir Ricky Simms, who represents Bolt, said, “Brands always ask how many followers an athlete has. For many companies, this is the way they want to reach their target customers.” Simms said that Bolt had “recently released a new mobile game and is in discussions about using his signature celebratory pose on products ranging from luxury brands to toiletry items and Jamaican-inspired food products” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/14).
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