‘The halo effect’: Clock ticks on sponsorship deals for Olympic medallists

Keegan Palmer captivated millions of aspiring skateboarders with his tricks at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.

Keegan Palmer captivated millions of aspiring skateboarders with his tricks at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. Photo: AAP

Twenty nine years after the iconic Goulburn Valley Gold commercial featured our original “Oarsome Foursome”, speculation mounts that Australia’s gold medal-winning Tokyo Games rowers could reimagine the famous tinned fruit tune.

Who knows? We still remember and love the rowers’ heads dancing around a can of tinned fruit, with the lyrics “peaches and apricots” still driving us all wild.

We’ll find out when the new quartet of Alexander Purnell, Spencer Turrin, Jack Hargreaves and Alexander Hill leave the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory and return to their home towns with new-found celebrity status.

But, with 472 athletes competing across 33 sports and returning just 46 medals (17 gold, 7 silver and 22 bronze), it will be a run to the finish line to secure sponsorship deals and brand alignment.

Olympic athletes in the race for sponsorship deals

Former AFL player, founder and CEO of Pickstar, Australia’s largest marketplace where people can book sports stars for events, marketing campaigns and fan experiences, James Begley tells The New Daily the next few weeks are “make or break” for the majority of athletes.

“The pre-eminent talent are going to be looking at those larger ‘Oarsome Foursome’-type brand deals,” Begley said.

“They are six-figure deals, multi-faceted in terms of their deliverables, and they’re not hard talent to engage with because they are gold medallists, they’ve got a great brand, they’re bubbly personalities. There’s a natural fit for brands out there.”

Mr Begley, who explains Pickstar doesn’t represent the talent, but helps  connect stars to commercial deals, said there were also athletes at the other end of the spectrum who can attract smaller deals – for as little as $5000 – where small brands connect with lesser-known Olympians “with great stories for lesser amounts, but it’s just as valuable and just as meaningful”.

“The next fortnight and, to a lesser degree, the next month are absolutely make or break,” he said.

“There is a frenzy at the moment and a jostling for commercial transactions between talent and brands. Unfortunately for Olympic talent, the halo effect wears off and there’s less appetite next year.

“The smart talent agents will be making deals within the next fortnight to a month.”

The New Daily contacted SPC Australia for comment on whether its delightful Oarsome Foursome commercials will be reimagined for our new champions.

Athletes, big dollars and brand alignment

Meanwhile, Mr Begley explains that for the core group of new talent – such as men’s BMX freestyle park gold medallist Logan Martin, 27, who has “broken through” to the winner’s line – will be among those who need to have their agents working hard to get those potential six-figure contracts locked and loaded.

He’s had his Pickstar team look at some positive brand alignments.

“What’s going to happen is their talent agent will have a deluge of interest and there will be brands reaching out to him and his agent now, for the next three to four weeks,” Mr Begley explained.

Martin, who hails from Logan in Queensland, spent $70,000 of his own money to build a replica BMX freestyle track in his backyard, with his young wife and children watching on as he practised every day for the past five years to win gold.

Pickstar’s chief growth officer Loren Renton muses: “One concept which jumps straight out at me for Logan is a Bunnings or Mitre10 could have a field day with this – ‘Go for gold in your own backyard’.”

Brand suggestions: Pushing the limits with Milo and Nutri-Grain; wireless sport headphones (Skullcandy).

Sponsorship deal options for Logan Martin

Logan Martin now has almost 500,000 Instagram followers alone. Photo: Getty

Skateboarding gold medallist Keegan Palmer, 18, is a “perfect example” of someone you’d want to align your brand to, who is “young, fresh, and has done something on the world stage”.

There are options galore.

“I’d be going to an Afterpay, or a fresh apparel brand trying to enter the market,” Mr Begley said.

Renton further suggests “nutritional bowls or a meal delivery service like DoorDash”.

“A concept of Keegan beating a delivery driver on his skateboard or Menulog where he could literally grind his skateboard across a log”.

Brand suggestions: Products for recovery, muscle help; wireless sport headphones; phone covers; Virgin Airlines; Uber

Tokyo Olympics

Australia’s Peter Bol runs in the 800-metre final in Tokyo on August 2. Photo: Getty

Track and field athlete Peter Bol, who didn’t win a medal in Tokyo but won the hearts of the nation, may attract a new deal.

His manager James Templeton told The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday Bol had received just $5000 in funding over the past six years “because he didn’t meet the rigid criteria to be assessed for ‘podium potential’.”

Adidas has supported him since 2018, Mr Templeton said.

Mr Begley said: “I look at the Peter Bol story and one of the things that springs to mind is if one of the big four banks wanted to position themselves in terms of his story and overcoming adversity.”

“There’s an aspirational element, and so brands can subtly leverage and move their brands to piggy back off his story and talk about supporting the everyday person.”

Brand suggestions: Endurance batteries; energy drinks; Energy Australia

Tokyo Olympics swimmer Ariarne Titmus

Ariarne Titmus, who won two gold medals in Tokyo, could attract new sponsorship deals with Optus, and her coach Dean Boxall could be picked up by Dare Iced Coffee for its ‘energy’, with a ‘not too serious’ vibe. Photo: Getty

Fellow Aussie swimmer Emma McKeon, who won seven medals in Tokyo, is seen as a “fast, reliable, true-blue Aussie”.

“One of the things that comes out of the Games is the over-representation and success of the women. This is now about the really prestigious premium brands, the big four banks, insurance, LandRover … Qantas … they are at the top end of town, bankability, its success, global appeal,” Mr Begley said.

“So for me that’s the other end of the spectrum.”

Brand suggestions: Australia Post; QBE; Kogan; Hisense; MG

closing ceremony for australian athletes

Australian athletes look to the stars and imagine Paris 2024. Photo: AAP

Mr Begley said the good news for athletes is that while there’s a “huge influx of brands, agencies and corporates” wanting to access Olympic talent now, the next Olympics is only three years away.

“They’re topical [now], it’s relevant. We’ve got to know them. We’ve learnt their stories,” he said.

“The one advantage for Olympic talent is the cycle is [now] only three years.

“There is more of an appetite for brands to invest in the full cycle … to do a three-year deal because it locks them into a three-year cycle, which is going to be crucial.”

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