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Volume 25 No. 64
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Marketers Leverage Social Media Following Of Olympic Athletes

The latest "marketing bonanza for brands hoping to get their 15 seconds of fame" has taken over the Pyeongchang Games' social media scene, and the rise of Twitter-savvy Olympians has "allowed companies to join in without shelling out for costly endorsements and advertising campaigns," according to Abha Bhattarai of the WASHINGTON POST. Gold Medal-winning snowboarder Chloe Kim tweeted about being "hangry" last week, and a "slew of companies -- Roy Rogers Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen, even Oreo -- joined in to promote their sandwiches" to her on social media. L.A.-based ice cream company Coolhaus co-Founder Natasha Case said, "We saw Chloe's tweet and said, 'Why not put ourselves out there?' It's an organic strategy." But FIU marketing professor Lin Humphrey said, "There are entire social-media teams and PR firms monitoring Twitter around the clock, and all of a sudden it doesn't feel authentic anymore" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/17). Meanwhile, the AP's Mae Anderson notes in the age of social media, athletes are "making a name for themselves" well before they win a medal. Athletes in Pyeongchang "are Olympian at building brands." Anderson: "Of course, winning a gold medal amplifies an athlete's reach." Octagon Senior VP/Individual Sports Marketing & Managing Dir of Olympics & Action Sports Peter Carlisle said, "Any athlete or celebrity that has an influential social media footprint certainly can commercialize that. It's now an essential part of just about every endorsement deal, sponsorship or arrangement any of these athletes have" (AP, 2/16).

GIRL POWER: ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted Kim has "unprecedented leverage" coming off her Gold Medal win, and all of her endorsement deals "are up for grabs come the spring." CAA's Lowell Taub, who reps Kim, said, "I've had some of these brands say, 'Can we have her for the next two years?' and I've told them, 'No, you can't have 2019 and 2020.'" The 17-year-old Kim's leverage "not only comes because of timing but also because of her age." Taub can "sell longer-term deals because of her win and the fact that there's longevity in the sport" (ESPN.com, 2/16). YAHOO FINANCE's Daniel Roberts noted Kim's star is "shining brightest after the first week of the Olympics." Wasserman Exec VP/Corporate Growth & Development Thayer Lavielle said, "She really is a marketer’s dream on many, many levels." Kim’s tweets "have actual business significance: as television viewership for all live sports declines, social media is where a brand’s sponsorship investment pays off the most." A single tweet can "often go more viral than a television ad ever does" (FINANCE.YAHOO.com, 2/18).