The power of celebrity

The power of celebrity advertising was never better exemplified then by events this past week.

It became apparent last Monday that the Chinese golden boy star hurdler Liu Xiang was hurt and would not be competing in the 110 meter hurdling event at the Olympics. This was a catastrophe for Liu, for the Chinese People who idolize him and for the businesses who have invested millions in product endorsements and consequently his success at the Olympics. Estimates are as high as $500 million in potential endorsements that are lost or at least delayed another four years.

Michael Phelps, of course, rose from relative obscurity to true celebrity deity status in the span of a week, the same week. His endorsement opportunities are just beginning. $500 million dollars in potential endorsements may be in his future.

A billion dollar swing in the advertising world, based on two individuals, both with greatness afoot. The shift caused in part by the size 14 flipper feet of one lucky athlete and the damaged achilles tendon of another not-so-lucky athlete.

Oh the power of celebrity and the agony of the feet.