Business

The value of ‘the Beast’

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator ?richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 27, 2012    

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JAMAICAN runner Yohan Blake may be a breakout star of the Olympics if he can beat training partner Usain Bolt to the sprint double in London.

But does the athlete, popularly known as “The Beast”, possess the marketability that propelled Bolt after his performances at the Beijing Olympics to becoming one of the mostendorsed athletes in the world?

SportsPro, a British magazine that reports on the business and financial aspects of sport, thinks that Blake has the prowess to lure top dollars for and from advertisers. Indeed, the magazine recently ranked Blake at number 40 on its 50 Most Marketable 2012 list of athletes.

“Although still in Bolt’s considerable shadow, Blake has the charisma and Jamaican joie de vivre which strikes a chord with sponsors,” reported SportsPro. “A significant challenge to Bolt in London would certainly propel Blake into an entirely different endorsement league, making him a value-for-money signing while he remains – merely – a world champion.”

It is a lucrative prospect for Adidas, LIME, Wata and other brands that already sponsor the 100m World Champion. The Olympics is a gold-mine worth billions of advertisement dollars. A Blake win in the 100m final — anticipated to be watched by over four billion viewers — by itself would be a major victory for Adidas and its Adizero Prime shoes, dubbed the “lightest commercial sprint spike” ever, that the runner will wear on the night.

Financial analyst Dennis Chung thinks that Blake would be an even bigger hit than Bolt was after Beijing if he upsets the Olympic Champion in London, especially against the background of what is expected to be a very strong 100m field, the Blue Ribbon event in the most-anticipated Olympics on record — NBC has topped the US$1 billion mark in advertising sales for the Olympics, the biggest advertising haul ever for the Games.

“If you beat Bolt, that alone is a great marketing push if you exploit it,” Chung told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“I think he will have the potential to make much more money than Bolt,” he added.

Bolt made US$20 million — the 11th most by any athlete — from endorsements over the past 12 months, according to Forbes in its latest list of the world's 100 highest-paid athletes. The charismatic sprinter holds endorsement deals with sports manufacturer Puma, energy drink company Gatorade, telecommunications firm Digicel and Swiss watch maker Hublot.

Chung suggests that Blake’s personality, which some people criticise as not being as marketble as Bolt’s, is actually one of his biggest selling points.

“The thing about Yohan that makes him marketable, in some way, is that he appears to be a quiet and humble man. Companies want to associate with a man like that,” said Chung, who added that the former St Jago athlete’s earning potential would have been boosted by the fact that Bolt has “paved the way” for Jamaican sprinters in terms of endorsements.

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