Olympic athletes in low-wattage sports like badminton, kayaking, fencing and water polo are to appear in a series of ads for Bank of America--including posters in bank branches and online spots--before the Beijing Games in August. The perceived purity of smaller sports plays a big role in BOA's choices, says bank spokesman Joseph Goode. Many major sports have been beset by scandal.A small note to anyone serious marketing types reading this (and there are some, if only for the fact that's what I do for a living)... if you are looking for a lesser-known Olympic hopeful who can keep his nose clean for that critical endorsement season, I'm your man. Besides, you can call me a badminton champion. Like anyone's going to know?
Home Depot also has had a policy of hiring lesser-known Olympic hopefuls with full pay and benefits, while requiring them to work 20-hour weeks with schedules that allow flexibility for training. And Visa has made it a point to sponsor athletes in new medal sports, including women's pole vault and women's bobsled.
A bonus for marketers backing new or lesser-known sports is that athletes come cheaply. BOA says it pays them low five-figure sums. Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, calls BOAs approach "almost like a mutual-fund strategy"--picking a larger group of lesser-known athletes, which can yield a few stories that capture fans' attention.
The Wall Street Journal