SBJ/March 11 - 17, 2002/This Weeks Issue

Coke brand closes in on medalist trio

Danny Kass (from left) Ross Powers, J.J. Thomas ready to cash in on Nestea Cool deal.

Ross Powers, Danny Kass and J.J. Thomas, the three American athletes who took the gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the men's halfpipe snowboard competition at the recent Winter Olympics, are close to cashing in with a Coke deal.

Agency sources said the trio has agreed in principle to a deal that would see them do TV and print ads for Coke's Nestea Cool ready-to-drink iced-tea brand this spring. Terms were not revealed, but one source close to the deal characterized the pending agreement as being in the low six figures for each athlete.

Prior ad creative for Nestea has leveraged the "cool" name, so the value of the snowboarders, both for the snowy imagery and the appeal they have to the ready-to-drink iced-tea target market, is obvious.

As for the much-hyped marketing bonanza anticipated for Winter Olympic heroes?

"There's still a real question out there over whether Olympic buzz will turn into real business," said Scott Becher of Sports & Sponsorships of Miami Beach, Fla., exclusive marketing agency for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. "The two real indicators to me are whether these athletes will do mainstream product endorsements and whether anyone will remember them in a year. In my opinion, the answer to both questions is yes."

Powers and Kass are represented by Peter Carlisle at Octagon.

"We've had tons of inquiries in all of the big categories," said Carlisle, who would not comment on the pending Nestea deal. "Athletes in this sport have been doing pretty well for a while now. The difference after the Olympics now is that we're getting inquiries from marketers that aren't just doing it because they are sponsors of the Olympics or X Games."

Bob Walker at Action Sports Management is Thomas' agent. Ad agency Berlin Cameron, New York, handles Nestea, which Coke markets and distributes under license from Nestlé.

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