Rio 2016 Olympic Athlete Endorsements Break Records [Infographic]


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Though it’s been almost a year since the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, many of the Games’ highest performing athletes are still reaping the benefits of their endorsements during the Olympic Games. Brands often continue to feature the previous year's celebrity athletes in brand endorsement advertising campaigns following the previous Olympics.  We continue to see star athletes utilized for these ad campaigns, inclusive of Ashton Eaton, Simone Biles, and Missy Franklin - continuing the endorsement deals aligning the brand with well-known proven winners.

While the Olympics has a black-out period for brands to not feature athletes unless they are official sponsors, the months and years following have no such restriction.  This allows both non-official and official sponsors to leverage the power of these global phenomenons.

In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares our infographic and dives into how the Rio 2016 Olympic athlete endorsements break records capitalizing on the world’s obsession of athlete’s success. 

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Coca-Cola #ThatsGold Campaign

As one of the longest running official Olympic sponsors, Coca-Cola portrayed some of the Games’ favorite athletes in their #ThatsGold campaign as not only incredible champions, but everyday young people enjoying their time together with Coke products.

This strategy was used in order to make the Olympic Games more appealing to Millennials and teens. The two commercials included in the campaign feature past footage of Olympic heroes and footage from today’s Olympic stars such as swimmer Nathan Adrian and hurdler Michelle Jenneke.

In addition, video vignettes and Coca-Cola packaging in North America featured popular athletes including decathlete Ashton Eaton, soccer player Alex Morgan, gymnast Nastia Liukin, and runner Leo Manzano, each racking in some of the largest Olympic endorsement deals for the 2016 Games. 

We previously wrote a blog post The Road To Rio: Brands Sponsoring The 2016 Olympics that included Coca-Cola that you can check out too.

Visa Celebrates Innovation

Visa kicked off its 30th year sponsoring the Olympic Games by focusing their ads on how their products are used, rather than the brand’s image itself. The exclusive payment partner of the Games had three televised spots, with the most notable being “Team Visa Carpool” featuring 15 of the 46 Olympic athletes the company sponsors from around the world as part of Team Visa.

The athletes featured include Missy Franklin, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, Aston Eaton, Sam Mikulak, Valerie Adams, and Alison Cerutti to name a few. The spot highlights all the different ways you can pay with Visa, where and whenever you want, including with the new Visa payment ring.

Celebrity invite to brand event ebook

Gillette Tackles the Grueling Road to Greatness

Gillette’s 2016 Olympic ad stars Brazilian soccer player Neymar Jr., Chinese Swimmer Ning Zetao, British cyclist Andy Tennant, and American decathlete Ashton Eaton, focusing on the sacrifice and ugliness it takes to achieve Olympic glory.

The ad, “Perfect Isn’t Pretty” begins with the athletes struggling with the obstacles and challenges that come with athletic training, however, each athlete overcomes these setbacks and show how the end product is always worth the chase. Gillette is featured in the commercial, but the product was not a focal point, rather the type of man that represents the spirit and drive of the brand’s customer.

This ad worked for Gillette because much like training, family conflict, and physical toll are the unseen side of athletic glory, shaving, and in turn Gillette, are the unseen side of producing the confidence in a man that allow them to perform their best. 

The Infographic

Our team built the following comprehensive infographic on the athlete brand endorsements seen at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio! Check out our blog post Olympics Celebrity Endorsement Ads.

Olympic Athlete Endorsements Infographic.png


Samsung Breaks Geographic Barriers

Samsung, the worldwide Olympic partner in wireless communication equipment for the Rio Games, debuted two ads called “The Chant” and “The Anthem” which aimed to connect and unite the world in spite of each nation’s differences.

The ads featured athletes across various nations such as Brazilian surfer Gabriel Medina, British diver Tom Daly, and American runner Alysia Montano. Both ads featured the Samsung Galaxy S7edge, as athletes and fans use it across the globe to capture and share their unique voices.

Samsung’s athlete endorsers were also featured in a variety of digital and social content throughout the entirety of the Games. 

Endorsement Deals of the World’s Greatest Athletes

Some of the Rio Games’ biggest names also have the largest brand endorsement deals in Olympic history, raking in huge dollars from multiple brands.

But brands need to be careful as there are some pitfalls from the Olympic community for non-sponsors.  Check out our blog post 12 Step Guide to Post About The Olympics And Not Get Sued.

Gymnastics star Simone Biles has had an estimated 1000% increase in her net growth since winning five gold medals in Rio. This puts the 19-year-old at an estimated net worth of over $4 million with endorsement deals from Nike, Kellogg’s, Hershey’s, and United Airlines. Her brand appeal comes from her incredible talent and inspiring back story representing the quintessential American dream.

The fastest man on Earth, Jamaican runner Usain Bolt, represents brands Virgin Mobile, Gatorade, and Nissan among many others. The most decorated sprinter with nine gold medals and a 100% win record in finals, has skyrocketed his net worth to $60 million with over $30 million in endorsements alone. In 2013, Bolt made a deal with his biggest sponsor Puma for $10 million a year through the 2016 Games in Rio.

Serena Williams was the No. 1 ranked female tennis player in the world before the Rio Games. Her success as a top-notch tennis player has earned her several endorsement deals with brands including Nike, Wilson, Beats, Mini, and Gatorade. Forbes estimates her endorsement earnings for 2015 and 2016 are in the $20 million range.

Celebrity Endorsement Deal Case Studies That Made Sales Happen Video

The champion of all champions, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all-time with a total of 28 medals at the conclusion of the Rio Games. He’s held extremely lucrative endorsements over the years with sponsors such as Speedo, Omega, Coca-Cola, Under Armour, and Sol Republic to name just a few. Though many of his endorsement deals are kept under wraps, it is estimated Phelps had $12 million dollars in endorsement deals in 2013, with an estimated net worth of over $55 million.

Other athletes with large endorsement earnings include Team USA basketball player Kevin Durant, Spanish tennis pro Rafael Nadal, and Team USA decathlete Ashton Eaton. 

At The Finish Line...

Olympic brand athlete endorsements continue to be an essential marketing tool for brands to capitalize off the success of popular Olympic athletes. With an athletes rising success, the higher the price tag is for their endorsement of a product.

In our crowded advertising market, now more than ever, it is important for brands to utilize the star power of public figures in order to influence public opinion of their brand and products in order to drive sales.

An easy way to start relationships with athletes or with actors or musicians is through event activations.  Check out our event calendar to see what upcoming event opportunities exist for your brand!

Celebrity Event Planning Calendar by Hollywood Branded