The 2006 Winter Olympics have drawn to a close and for most advertisers, viewers and network execs, not a moment too soon. The traditional crazed rush to sign up the game's golden boys and girls looks more like a curling match than an exciting men's down hill. No one took over the games and most of the U.S. winners might as well have lead hanging around their necks than medals as their boorish behavior has dragged down their chances at the Olympic Advertising Sweepstakes. Clearly there were no Wheaties Box performances, more like Capt'n Crunch.
Going into the event there were a number of Mark Spitz like icons just waiting for their chance. Bode "One More for the Road" Miller took his sponsor's "Just Do It" phrase a little too literally. The problem is what he just did was hit the bars more than the slopes. Michelle Kwan was more a favorite for advertising fame than medal hope, but her last minute dropping out left Visa and others scratching their heads on what to do with her. Chad Hedrick probably did more to completely destroy his earning's potential than any other Olympian in recent memory (and we're including the dreaded Dave versus Dan debacle). Between his "look at me" behavior, laser bright fake Chiclets filled smile and never-ending chicken fighting with Shani Davis all of the A List advertisers are taking a pass. We have heard that snow board gold medalist Shaun "one more hit for the road" White has been signed up to be national spokesperson for High Times magazine and Cheech and Chong Rolling Papers, so that's nice for him.
Who will walk away the big Madison avenue winner? Drum roll please............... Joey Cheek..the only speed-skater (not including short track) that seemed more interested in the true essence of the Olympics than what it would mean for him personally. His charitable actions (donated $40K of money winnings to kids charity), good looks and beaming personality have made him the most attractive Madison Ave pitch person to emerge. He's expected to sign 2 to 3 major endorsement deals over the coming weeks. Good for him.