Coke breaks the ice, signs six for Vancouver Olympics
By TRIPP MICKLE
Published May 25, 2009 : Page 09
Coca-Cola has signed a six-pack of athletes for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The company will be featuring snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, figure skater Evan Lysacek, hockey player Angela Ruggiero, speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno and the pairs figure-skating duo of Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker.
The Team USA hopefuls will be featured in point-of-sale advertising and other Coke marketing materials around the Vancouver Games. The endorsements end following the Vancouver Games. Other terms of the deals were unavailable.
The signing is significant for U.S. Olympians because endorsement opportunities ahead of Vancouver have been scarce due to the ongoing recession. Many athlete agents expected Vancouver to be a lucrative opportunity for U.S. athletes because it’s a North American Olympics, but so far they say companies have been conservative and slow to sign endorsement deals.
“Many companies don’t know what they’re doing,” said IMG’s Yuki Saegusa, Lysacek’s agent. “That’s why this is so important. It’s such a great company — an American icon — that really, it’s a stamp of approval for Evan.”
This will be the second time Coke has signed six athletes for the Olympics. The first was ahead of the Beijing Games last summer.
The Beijing “Six Pack” included Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Steven Lopez (taekwondo), Sanya Richards (track and field), LeBron James (basketball), Andy Potts (triathlon) and Shawn Johnson (gymnastics). They were featured on collectible packaging and in-store materials but not on Coca-Cola cans.
Coca-Cola did a photo shoot with the Vancouver athletes two weeks ago in Mount Hood, Ore. The company doesn’t plan to feature the athletes on cans but will have them serve as Coke “Ambassadors of Active Living,” designed to encourage people to lead active lives.
Coke expects to go to market with Vancouver promotions in early 2010. The Olympics begin with the opening ceremony on Feb. 22, 2010.
Source: Sports Business Journal