Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dollars & Sense - Gabby Douglas

We have all seen it before.  We may not be able to describe what it is, but we know it when we see it.  And boy, does 16 year old Gabby Douglas got it. 

Throughout the London 2012 Olympics thus far, Douglas has wowed the crowds and TV audiences with her compelling story, wide smile, and two gold medal performances.  The details should be spared because if you don’t know the story, then you need to watch the replays of the recent events.  My words could not do this feat the justice it deserves.  This improbable run to become an Olympic gold medalist will vault Gabby Douglas to be one of the most sought after Olympians for brand endorsements.

The all-around women’s gymnastics gold medal may be one of the most prestigious medals in the Summer Olympic Games.  Winning the gold is winning a permanent spot in the hearts of Americans everywhere.  Gabby now joins the big time American names like Mary Lou Retton and, more recently, Nastia Liukin. 

We know about the marketing successes of both Retton and Liukin, and Gabby Douglas surely isn’t too far behind.  Prior to the London 2012 Games, Douglas signed a deal with P&G to be part of their “Raising an Olympian” campaign.  Within hours of winning the gold medal, Douglas had a deal in place with Kellogg’s and she is set to appear on the boxes for Corn Flakes. 

The endorsement dollars shall be plentiful for Douglas.  ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell (it feels kind of odd saying that) tweeted that historically the all-around gold winner sees around $2 million in endorsements.  There have also been reports and estimates on Forbes that pin a similar number to gold medal success.

With Nastia Liukin not qualifying for the London 2012 Games and the early retirement of Shawn Johnson, the door is wide open for Gabby Douglas.  These Games were supposed to be for Jordan Wieber, but Gabby stole the show in stunning fashion.  Aside from possibly the Phelps-Lochte “rivalry”, Gabby may have created the most buzz thus far.

As for whether the dollars make sense, they most certainly do.  The short term buzz that Gabby Douglas can bring to a brand is something that can boost a brand of any size.  The momentum that she has going into these deals is immense and cannot be ignored.  Gabby has brought herself to a level that can break through a lot of clutter.  If I were a company with money to spend, I’m jumping on the Gabby Douglas bandwagon faster than you can say “why is ESPN covering Tebow when this girl is making international headlines.” 

Gabby Douglas is a star.  She very well may be able to hold that star power into the 2016 Rio de Janeiro.  A four year stranglehold of a very special marketing category is an instance that is rarely seen.  Gabby Douglas’s brand is strong, strong enough to help even the biggest brands in the United States. 

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