So cereal-maker Kellogg’s has decided not renew its endorsement deal with Michael Phelps after pictures surfaced of him smoking marijuana. Thus far, all of Phelps’ other corporate partners have stood by the swimmer, who won a record 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.
Out of all the companies that Phelps has deals with, Kellogg’s seems like it would have been the most likely candidate to drop him. Let’s look at a list of some of his corporate partners:
Omega - watchmaker probably isn’t fazed by the pot smoking. Their relationship with Phelps is based on the notion of “performance.” As long as Phelps performs, they’ll be happy. Plus, Omega is the official timekeeper of the Olympics, so it would behoove them to maintain a relationship with the most decorated Olympian in history.
Speedo - Again, Speedo doesn’t care how Phelps acts as much as he performs in the pool. Winning races while wearing a Speedo suit is all that matters.
PureSport- While the sports drink maker would likely prefer that Phelps maintain an image as a top-tier athlete committed to putting only the best things in his body, PureSport will be happy as long as the swimmer uses the product and performs well.
Visa - The credit card company is a major worldwide Olympic sponsor through 2012. Like Omega, it makes sense for them to want to continue to be tied in with someone with Phelps’ accomplishments.
Kellogg’s - Olympic athletes have been on cereal boxes for decades. But their appearances often have less to do with the actual gold medals than what that excellence represents — dedication, American pride, wholesomeness. When Mary Lou Retton appeared on the Wheaties box, it was less about her gold medals and more about her being a small town girl with a big smile who made America proud. There is a premium placed not just on the accomplishments at the Olympics, but how the athletes come across and conduct themselves. And let’s face it, when you’re marketing products to kids, it helps to have a clean image. For that reason, it is not surprising that Kellogg’s dropped Michael Phelps.