Once every quadrennial( about four years) before the summer Olympics, a marketing fervor begins. Swimming is one of the biggest draws at the Olympics, and the ratings bear that out. At the 2008 Games, nights that had swimming drew an average of 16.2% of American households, which was up 7% from the previous games. Things are even better if your name is Michael Phelps: after Phelps’ last race, Olympic ratings plummeted in 2008, and the last 7 nights came out on average behind their 2004 predecessors.
And thus it’s no surprise that Phelps has kicked off this year’s marketing season. If you run a Google search on “Michael Phelps Head and Shoulders,” you get a lot of results. Mostly they are about how he is (or used to be) “head and shoulders above” the rest of the competition, or some description of his instantly recognizable butterfly stroke. But now, a whole new list of results will fight for those keywords after Phelps signed a 7-figure endorsement deal with Proctor & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders shampoo brand.
That’s a huge endorsement for him, akin to his Subway deal, and shows the potential for swimmers to reach outside of the aquatic community. Head & Shoulders Classic Clean shampoo is the United States’ best-selling shampoo, and the brand as a whole is the largest shampoo brand in the world. And their new face will be that of a swimmer. Not only is this a huge win for Phelps, but also a win for the sport as a whole.
It’s on now. The marketing deals that potential Olympians will be signing in the next few months almost a sport in-and-of itself.