Olympic icon Summer Sanders rides new ‘mommy marketing’ wave

Summer Sanders has found marketing success 20 years after her Olympic swimming success.
Summer Sanders’ calendar in London has been packed. She was at the P&G Family Home for a Duracell event, on a double-decker bus for a Kellogg’s media tour and poolside for many of USA Swimming’s 30 medals.

“I’m a worker,” Sanders said.

Sanders, who won four medals as a swimmer in the 1992 Olympics, is having her best year since she left the pool. She has signed six deals over the last year, adding endorsements with Duracell, Kellogg’s, USA Swimming, Visa, General Electric and Speedo.

“It’s timing,” said Sanders, who is represented by CAA. “With age comes a better understanding of who you are and how you present yourself.”

Sanders, 39, has benefited from the rise in Olympic sponsors’ marketing targeted to mothers. She is married to an Olympian, former skier Erik Schlopy, and has a 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. She joined the growing ranks of “mommy bloggers” four years ago and writes regularly about juggling her work schedule and kids. In addition to her endorsement portfolio, she’s a TV host for Pac-12 Networks.

During a night session at the London Aquatic Centre on Friday, Sanders pulled out a notebook she updates daily with things to add to the blog and points at an entry of the things she plans to post to her website, summersanders.net.

“I brought the kids here for swimming (last Thursday) and got here before I remembered I forgot my two tickets,” she said. “We’d walked 22 minutes and had to turn around and go back.”

Such candor online has made her a perfect fit for the growing list of Olympic brands trying to appeal to moms. Since former worldwide Olympic sponsor Johnson & Johnson first developed a digital campaign in 2008 thanking mothers for supporting athletes, P&G, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola have developed advertising that targets mom consumers.

“Beyond her golden Olympic credentials, Summer is an experienced commentator and public speaker who brings enthusiasm to every appearance,” said Stassi Anastassov, president of Duracell for P&G. “Duracell could not have found a better, long-lasting Copper correspondent.”

Several of her new sponsors have included Sanders’ children in their campaigns. Kellogg’s came to her house and shot a digital video with her talking about how she starts her day. Schwinn, a long-standing endorser, filmed an ad with Sanders and her daughter, Skye.

Sanders is humored by the number of sponsors she has amassed this year. When she swam for the U.S. team in 1992, she only had two sponsors, Speedo and Powerade. It was difficult for her to earn money on endorsements, so she transitioned to television and became an on-air commentator for NBC’s Olympics coverage in 1996.

“A lot of (the work) has to do with being a mom,” she said. “I’m as imperfect as anyone else as a parent, which is different from being seen as perfect as an athlete.”

CAA’s Lowell Taub, who has represented Sanders for years, said that they want to replicate the success they’ve enjoyed before the London Games four years from now when the Olympics go to Rio.

But for now, Sanders is focused on her new job as a host on the Pac-12 Networks. Her true passion is TV, and after years of working on “NBA Inside Stuff,” the former Stanford swimmer is excited about working on college sports.

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