Magazine article Variety

Games Lack Star Power

Magazine article Variety

Games Lack Star Power

Article excerpt

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio featured swimmer Michael Phelps, already the most decorated Olympian ever, returning from retirement. Others, too, came to Rio with multiple golds, big endorsements and well-known backstories, including U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

The 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, have just a flicker of that star power, with only two returning U.S. gold medalists, snowboarder Shaun White and alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, registering significant name recognition with American audiences, according to data from Hub Entertainment Research. (The survey was conducted online Dec. 16-19 with more than 1,000 U.S. respondents, ages 16-64.) That may not bode well for a megabillion-dollar event that already shines less brightly than its warm-weather counterpart.

"It's been proven time and time again that the Summer Olympics, with its diversity of sports and type of athletes, tends to have a broader appeal," says Amy Rappo, communications strategy director at ad agency Droga5.

The Hub study found a paucity of wellknown names coming to Pyeongchang, so much so that 19% of those surveyed claimed to have heard of none of the dozens of potential stars. Traditionally, men's hockey has been one of the most popular Winter Olympics sports. …

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