When the Olympic Games are over, and the (gold) dust has settled, what happens to those athletes who captured our hearts and gave us reason to cheer? How can they parlay their elevated recognition and success? And why do some Olympians quietly fade away after the torch stops burning while others remain in the pop culture spotlight?
The reality is, some of them can’t accept endorsements or money from brands as they’re still amateurs. For others, there are some steps they can take to put them on the road to endorsement riches.
1. Strike while the iron’s hot
The unfortunate fact for most Olympians is that their shelf life is so short. Those who score big at the Games have a short time – during and straight after the Olympics – to cash in on their new-‐found fame. Yes, there are a few Olympians who can sustain their endorsement power beyond a few weeks or months after the Games. Those athletes can represent a brand long term. Most, however, fall off the national radar quickly. Alas, we have short memories.
2. Be visible
While in London, attend every corporate event, sponsor house and Olympic affair as possible. The more people you meet within the Olympic environment – where people are excited and feeling patriotic – the better chance of landing a paid appearance down the road.
3. Mind your manners
While in London (and after the Games), have fun, but be on your best behavior. Getting drunk with your mates and causing trouble at 4am is an easy way to ensure brands won’t be interested in associating with you.
4. Use the press
Every interview you do with a news outlet is an endorsement audition. While you may not have undergone formal media training, if you’re genuine, energetic (smile!) and express your thoughts coherently, brands will be more likely to connect. If possible, try to accommodate every reporter who asks for an interview. The more you do, the more exposure you’ll get.
5. Use social networking wisely
If you’re looking for corporate endorsers, social channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are no place for amateurs. When used properly, these are powerful channels for celebrities and can add real value to your brand. But it’s important to know exactly how to use it to your advantage.
6. Feel charitable
One of the best ways to stay in the public eye after the Games is to partner with a national charity that you’re genuinely passionate about or, at the least, have an interest in. Most charities will welcome your association and support. And your work for the charity will demonstrate to both brands and consumers that, even though you’re a famous Olympian, you’re not just interested in making money.
7. Learn from the senior members of the team
Athletes like Hoy, Murray and Redgrave have been around the block and understand how to attract corporate endorsements. Younger athletes can learn from the old guard.
8. Get an agent
Do a little research and find an experienced agent, perhaps one who already handles Olympians. A good agent can help you navigate the endorsement waters.
9. Win and win big
Personal Bests are good; a bronze is excellent; and, as you might expect, world records and multiple gold medals are even better. In nearly every case, the more you win, the more bankable you are.
10. Have style
Brands love athletes who have a good story to share, something different, something that will inspire people or something that will transcend their legacy. A move, a look, a stance or a saying that may become part of the national or international lexicon. Greg Rutherford’s finger wave at the start of his long jump may not measure up to Usain Bolt’s “lightning” pose, but my kids are already doing it!
Mick Carter is managing director, EMEA, at Davie Brown Entertainment
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