SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/Olympics

Olympics golden for marketing agencies

Two U.S.-based global sports marketing firms, Wasserman Media Group and Octagon, posted their own impressive performances at the London Olympics, representing athletes who took home a combined 53 Olympic medals, 34 of them gold.

Wasserman represented 38 athletes who competed in the Games, including multiple members of the U.S. men’s and women’s gold-medal-winning basketball teams (two players and seven players, respectively), and nine members of the gold-medal-winning U.S. women’s soccer team. Wasserman clients took home 25 gold medals, eight silver and two bronze.

Octagon, meanwhile, represented many individual-sport athletes who won gold,
Shade Global represents gymnast Gabby Douglas (top left), diver David Boudia is aligned with PMG Sports and Wasserman Media Group counts soccer players Hope Solo and Abby Wambach (above) as clients.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES (3)
including Michael Phelps, who won four gold medals and two silvers to bring his Olympic total to a record 18 golds and 22 overall. Octagon’s athlete clients, who also include swimmer Nathan Adrian and gymnast Aly Raisman, took home a total of 18 medals from London, nine of them gold.

Other U.S. sports agencies, both big, multisport talent representation firms and boutique shops that specialize in representing Olympic athletes, had multiple clients who won multiple medals (see chart).

While agents said it was great to have their clients win multiple medals in the Olympics, what counts in business is which agents and clients sign lucrative, multiyear deals with major corporations that help build the athletes’ brands.
“It’s not the number of medals; it’s the quality of the medals,” said Peter Carlisle, Octagon director of Olympics and action sports and Phelps’ agent.

Every medal provides an opportunity for an athlete client to sign sponsors, but differences come about when considering an athlete’s sport and whether the competitor is an individual medalist or part of a team.

Key athletes


Wasserman Media Group: Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Maya Moore, Sue Bird, Candace Parker, Jordyn Wieber, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan
Octagon: Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian, Aly Raisman, Ricky Berens, Natalie Coughlin, Laura Robson
Arluck Promotions: Matt Grevers, Carmelita Jeter, Cesar Cielo, Ous Mellouli, Nick Thoman, Peter Vanderkaay
PMG Sports: Cullen Jones, David Boudia, Eric Shanteau, Tyler Clary
WME: Serena Williams, Allyson Felix, McKayla Maroney, Jordan Burroughs
CAA: Sanya Richards-Ross, Carmelo Anthony, Andy Murray
Shade Global: Gabby Douglas
IMG: Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova

“I think it’s night and day,” said Evan Morgenstein, president and CEO of PMG Sports, of the marketability of a team-sport medal winner or an individual medal winner. “If you win a relay medal, the endemics are interested — but it is much harder to get any interest outside the endemics, unless you have a story.”

PMG Sports represented athletes who accounted for 11 medals in London, five of them gold, including one awarded to David Boudia, the first U.S. male diver to win gold since Greg Louganis in 1988. Other agencies that specialize in representing Olympic athletes include Arluck Promotions, which represented athletes who won 18 medals, nine of them gold, and Shade Global, which represents gymnast Gabby Douglas, who won the individual all-around gold medal as well as a gold as part of the U.S. team.

Other agencies who represented clients who won more than one medal in London include CAA and IMG. CAA represented athletes who won seven medals, six of them gold, including men’s singles tennis winner Andy Murray. IMG represented two medal winners: Venus Williams, who won a gold medal with her sister, Serena, for women’s doubles tennis; and Maria Sharapova, who won a silver medal for women’s singles tennis.

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