On the heels of winning six medals at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, 28-time medalist Michael Phelps signed his first post-Olympics brand collaboration with technology company, Intel Corporation.
The fully integrated marketing campaign will kick off Mon., Oct. 17 with a mix of content on Intel-owned websites and social platforms in addition to paid digital promotion. The campaign will center around two new :30 commercials with Phelps and “The Big Bang Theory” star, Jim Parsons. It will be the first time Parsons is paired with another celebrity in an Intel advertisement. The brand did not comment on deal specifics.
“If you look at the past year, we’ve been really trying to embed our brand and technology into sport,” said Steve Fund, Intel’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We’ve done integrations in the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, NBA Playoffs and X Games. … We’re really trying to infuse our technology into the sports experience. We think the digitization of sports is a major trend.”
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After Fund noticed Phelps watching swimming footage of himself on an older PC before a race in Rio, the light bulb went off about potentially partnering with the 23-time Olympic gold medalist. Fund initially discussed the brand partnership with Phelps at the Olympics and according to the marketing executive, Phelps joked that he had been using the same computer technology with U.S.A. Swimming for about 15 years.
Even with the exaggeration, the opportunity to still mesh the brand strategy about faster, better and more efficient operating systems tied in to how Phelps had performed in the pool for his entire year. Fund eventually reached out to Phelps’ agent, Peter Carlisle of Octagon, shortly thereafter. The commercials were shot just two weeks after the Games ended.
“With an opportunity like this where the Olympics are every four years and are a moment in time, you want to capitalize on the popularity, attention and awareness of someone like Michael as close to the Games as you possibly can,” Fund said.
The two commercials — which include playing off Phelps’ Olympic angry face that went viral and his recent retirement — provide a reminder and call to action for consumers to purchase Intel products, similar to what other brand spots have previously done.
Fund said that continuing to pair Parsons with other celebrities is probably a model that the brand will continue with moving forward, adding with a “high degree of confidence” that the brand will work with other athletes in the future, too.