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Michael Phelps: Gold Medal Athlete, Advertising Icon

TEGNA Marketing | July 18, 2020

With such an impressive Olympic resume, Michael Phelps is not only an athletic icon – he’s also big in the advertising world. Here are some of his most notable campaigns.

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  • Summer Olympics

Michael Phelps: Gold Medal Athlete, Advertising Icon

TEGNA Marketing | July 18, 2020

With such an impressive Olympic resume, Michael Phelps is not only an athletic icon – he’s also big in the advertising world. Here are some of his most notable campaigns.

Michael Phelps could very well go down in history as the greatest Olympic athlete of our time. Not only does he hold numerous Olympic records, but he’s also the most decorated Olympian ever, with 28 medals on his resume (23 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze), collected from 2004 to 2016.

With such an impressive Olympic resume, he’s become a worldwide icon, and several brands have used his Olympic glory to help sell their products. Here are a few examples.

Silk® Uses Phelps to Inspire Everyday People 

Although Phelps’ last Olympic go-round was in 2016, several brands are still using his iconic status to help sell their products. Silk, the home of Smooth and Delicious Plant-Based Products used Phelps in conjunction with the everyday man, Greg.

In this 30-second spot, Greg is making progress with his daily fitness goals of swimming laps and eating healthy. But along comes Phelps, prompting Greg to take back the spotlight and show that “progress is perfection.”

Phelps Partners with Visa for the Olympics Throughout His Career 

Phelps’ Olympic career started at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney at age 15. He did not win any medals, but that didn’t stop Visa from using him in an ad for the 2004 games in Athens.

The 30-second spot features Phelps swimming laps between the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and the Statue of Liberty in New York City in order to promote “the only card accepted at this summer’s Olympic Games.”

The next Visa campaign to star Phelps would be in 2012 with the “Go World” campaign in several different ads. In this 30-second spot, Morgan Freeman narrates Phelps’ most thrilling victory — winning by 1/100th of a second at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Freeman also reassures audiences that Phelps is indeed human, while this spot congratulates him on “winning more gold medals than anyone, ever.”

Under Armour & Phelps Win More Than Gold Medals  

Like Visa, Under Armour is a brand that has used Phelps in several ad campaigns throughout his Olympic career, despite not being an Olympic sponsor. The Protect This House campaign showed Phelps in the gym, training hard for the 2012 Games in London, in which he became the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Following his 2012 run, Phelps announced his retirement — but he didn’t stay retired that long. Phelps returned for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he won five more gold medals and one silver. But prior to the Rio Games, Phelps worked with Under Armour on the campaign. In it, Phelps is shown training against the backdrop of a song about “the last goodbye.”

Amazingly, the campaign won a Film Craft Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival and was the second-most shared ad of the 2016 Olympics.

What is Your Game Plan for the Tokyo Olympics?

At a time when the world needs hope and unity more than ever, the Olympic Games in Tokyo present brands with a unique opportunity to use their platform, voice, and to deliver powerful messaging that inspires the masses. Using memorable Olympic moments can help brands deliver these messages in a meaningful way.

Get connected with TEGNA’s Power of Inspiration team to get started on a gold medal campaign of your own. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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