To be an Olympian is a huge achievement. You are immortalised in history, forever part of the most elite group of people in the world. This is especially so in a small country like Ireland where may past Olympians have become household names. Think Sonia O’Sullivan, Thomas Barr, David Gillick, and of course, Katie Taylor.
This week Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan made history and reached the pinnacle of their sport by winning gold at the Tokyo games. But what does that mean, to stand on the top step of that podium?
From a commercial perspective, the world is their oyster. They can now command commercial deals ranging into the region of six figures per annum. There has been a long-standing history of brands in Ireland being associated with the Olympics and this will not change. We’ve seen in the past multiple industries such as retail, motor, nutrition, tech, and finance all playing a role in the build-up of each Olympic cycle, and the Paris 2024 games will be no different.
High-performance brands are looking to align themselves with high performers. For McCarthy and O’Donovan, timing is everything. The pair are now a brand in themselves with an opportunity to capitalise on this newly added value. They are Rowing Ireland’s poster boys and with the Paris Olympics only three years away, brands will be keen to get onboard with the champions as quickly as possible. For our rowers, it is crucial they use this momentum to capitalise on commercial opportunities that come their way.
The cyclical nature of the Olympics gives brands a chance to leverage the recent success and build a strong narrative in the build-up to Paris 2024.
It is time to move fast. We know from our Teneo Sport Industry Research that 45% of brands have already — or are planning — to invest in new sponsorships in 2021 and with Olympic success we believe that number will increase.
Also from our research, just over a third (37.5%) of brands said that Olympic and Paralympic Athletes are best positioned to capitalise on sponsorship investment in 2021 (Teneo Industry Research).
McCarthy and O’Donovan are now at their commercial peak and securing at least one major partnership is not out of the question with ambassadorial roles for others. We’ve seen the journey to the Olympics causing great stress for athletes not only mentally but also financially in their pursuit of keeping dreams alive.
For authentic partnerships, it is vital for brands and potential sponsors to recognise these sacrifices.
Any organisation that partners with an elite athlete adds great value and shows positive intent, however, partnering with Olympic gold medalists elevates brands and organisations into a league of their own.
- Stephen Bradshaw is a Teneo Sports Advisory Director.