Just before and during the London Olympics, athletes were not allowed to tweet support for advertisers and marketers unless they were official sponsors of the Games. This led to a few of them being so irked that they tweeted with such hash tags as #wedemandchange and #rule40 so the general public could see that it wasn’t all rainbows and Happy Meals at the Olympic Village.
The ban has been lifted and one of the fastest to take advantage, of course, was the Fastest Man in the World, Usain Bolt. As Ad Age points out, the above Gatorade ad he appears in explicitly notes that the company wasn’t an official sponsor, with a narrator saying, "We weren't there on stadium billboards. We weren't there on double-decker buses. We weren't on buttons, souvenirs or commemorative snow globes. We weren't there officially sponsoring anything. We were there for real -- inside the bodies of some of the greatest athletes on earth." While the voice rolls on, a mysterious figure wearing a hood walks the streets of London before being revealed to be Bolt.
Other non-Games sponsor brands that immediately jumped onto the Olympics bandwagon, according to InsideTheGames.com, are “Aviva, the main sponsor of UK Athletics; Volvo, a major sponsor of British sailing; and Virgin Media,” which had scuttled an ad with Bolt just before the London Games got underway.
Just as Bolt and Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas will start pulling in the big bucks from advertisers to be aligned with their products, each country that sent athletes will have its own Olympic heroes who will benefit. In Britain, heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cyclists Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy, and runner Mo Farah will likely pull in more than a million pounds in endorsements because of their Olympics success, according to the Guardian.
But other folks who didn’t earn gold are going to see their revenue dip, the paper notes. Swimmer Rebecca Adlinglton won two golds at the Beijing Games, but only scored two bronzes this time around; that should mean fewer pounds in her pocket. Meanwhile, Kenyan runner David Rudisha, who set a world record while winning one of the most competitive events of the Olympics, the half mile, may have trouble getting any kind of lucrative deal. "It is difficult to think how marketable [Rudisha] will be,” said
Oliver Hunt, a partner at the sports law firm Onside Law, the Guardian reports. “Is he really well-known enough in the big markets, and what type of endorsements would come his way? Although he was amazing, when all the fuss dies down, you wonder if he can [earn millions]."
Bummer for Rudisha, but at least he’s got a gold.