Shaun White Maximizing Image

By admin

His creativity and authenticity kill in the $150 billion youth market.  Shaun White has taken his image to new levels…

When he won the gold medal in snowboarding at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, everyone knew how Shaun White’s story would end. The corporate advertising complex would line up to capitalize, just as it has with every gold medalist since decathlete Bruce Jenner. And White, with his strange equine beauty and crazy pile of long red hair, would assume the position, allowing his action-sports cred and new America’s-darling status to be sucked out of him and slapped on every can, box, and cookie bag in the nation. All the elements for cashing in and selling out were in place: Take a kid with working-class roots (his mom was a waitress, his dad worked for the water utility in San Clemente, California); add Olympic gold and huge endorsement checks; run the cliché. Heinz would offer six figures to put White on everything from ketchup bottles to stewed tomatoes (White’s then-nickname: the Flying Tomato). Maybe a toothpaste company would come pushing tubes of new Shaun Extreme Whitening. Throw in some potential heavy-rotation spots for Schick Xtreme Shaving and Doritos Extreme Nacho Cheesiness and the caricature is close to complete. As a final inspired bit of packaging, someone would lay down the big bucks to insert Mr. White in a straight-to-DVD production of Faster Times After Ridgemont High, where he would be cast as a snowboarding Spicoli attending a junior college somewhere near Banff. White would then spontaneously combust into the most awesome! bitchin’! rad! gnarly! D-list spokes-celeb ever.

But Shaun White took a pass on becoming the Crown Fool of Gnarnia. “I was so fortunate to have had some success before the Olympics,” he says. “So when the time came for everyone to come at me, I was able to step back and say, ‘Do I really want to do that? Do I want to be known for airing over some dude who is going aaaahhh! with his teeth gleaming?’ ”

Considering the risks involved in his day jobs — in 2003 he added pro skateboarder to his résumé and took gold at the 2007 Summer X Games — control is a survival instinct. (At 11, a midair collision with another skateboarder left him with a cracked skull, a broken arm, and a fractured foot.) Even as a teenager, White understood the power of his image, his pre-Olympic sponsor list included Mountain Dew and T-Mobile — and felt compelled to protect it. “A photo would go out that I didn’t approve, and a kid would come up and have me sign it,” says White, now 22. Read the rest of the article online >Shaun White Stock Soars

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