Ruth Mortimer on the Vancouver Games

As the Olympics draw to a close, marketers are checking the results tables wondering how to cash in on the popularity of certain sports and athletes. So which athletes will be feted with sponsorship deals? I have already mentioned the photogenic American skier Lyndsey Vonn and the 19-year-old South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-Na, but others tipped for the top by both marketing and sports experts include:

Apolo Anton Ohno. Apart from having the best name ever, the speed skater already has a high media profile from TV’s Dancing With The Stars and has deals with Nestlé; and Alaska Airlines.

Bode Miller. The skier became the bad boy of the Olympics in 2006 for his boozy behaviour. Once an endorser for PlayStation skiing games, he was seen as a failure before he turned his life around. As a new father, the bad-boy-turned-good-guy could be for a fabulous marketing story.

Shaun White. The snowboarder got Red Bull to build him a half-million-dollar half-pipe last year so he could work on his impressive moves, which include crazy flips and twists. He won gold at the American Winter X Games last month, despite a spectacular crash, and was said to have received $7.5m in sponsorship last year from brands including Red Bull and snowboard manufacturer Burton.

Which ones will be the ultimate winners? We will first have to see how the athletes perform at the Games, before the competition in the brand world gets going during the next few weeks.

Context counts for a lot. Take two campaigns – McDonald’s “The best things in life are 3” and Irish charity Trócaire’s “If only hunger were make believe”. Place them next to each other, as was done on a Belfast hoarding, and you get a very unfortunate message indeed.

For lighter relief check out the “new Old Spice man” too at my blog on

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