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Be Like Michael

August 21st, 2008

Move over Jordan. Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” commercial from 1992 must just deserve a 21st century remix featuring Michael Phelps. Phelps secured his place in the record books this past week with more Olympic gold medals in a single Olympics and more overall gold medals than any other athlete in the history of the modern Olympics. Now, it seems, he’s poised to break another Olympic record: Phelps is expected to become the biggest money-making Olympian of all time.

Ok, so he’s no Jordan or Tiger, but he will be swimming in an estimated $100 million in endorsements over the course of his lifetime. Keep in mind he already claims the likes of Visa, Hilton, and Omega watches among his sponsors.

So what’s in store for Phelps in the next four years before his next appearance on a national stage? Will he become the poster boy for a burgeoning sport – splashed prominently across billboards, television screens, and the Web – or will he quietly settle back into relative anonymity, taxed by his daily five-hours-in-the-pool training regimen?

For now, the world is watching – and critiquing. (I have to believe Phelps is drawing more criticism for signing on with Frosted Flakes than Jordan ever got for championing McDonalds). Consider Beijing as Phelps’ coming out party. The task of growing his celebrity status and global brand, it would seem, is now in the hands of his agent and his sponsors.

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