We won’t be tempted by puns. Or any sort of lame wordplay. We’ll play this straight. Seriously. Here goes: After all the bad publicity caused by a photo of Michael Phelps apparently taking a bong hit, Kellogg has decided to dump the superswimmer.
Okay, now that’s out of the way. Here’s the basics from Reuters:
The world’s largest cereal maker said on Thursday it would not extend a contract with Phelps, who charmed audiences in Beijing last year with a record-breaking, eight-gold medal haul, saying the photo of the swimmer was inconsistent with its public image.
Phelps, estimated to make millions of dollars annually from marketing deals, issued an apology this week after a British newspaper published a photograph purportedly showing him smoking marijuana during a student party at the University of South Carolina in November.
The move doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Marketers often get nervous about this sort of thing, especially when forking out big bucks in this economy. Phelps has other deals worth millions of dollars with brands including Speedo swimwear, Omega watches, Visa Inc, Subway sandwiches and Hilton Hotels. Phelps’s agency, Octagon, said earlier this week that it had been in touch with his sponsors and that none had indicated any intention of backing out of their deals.
What changed? What’s the deal with Kellogg? The difference? One marketing executive tells AdWeek that it’s all about the kids.