Date: late 2005 - 2006 Olympics (?)

Michelle has a new endorsement deal, this time with Coca-Cola! She will be the lead Olympian in Coke's 2006 Olympic advertising plans, which include television commercials as well as a major in-store Coke promotional effort. Her image will be stamped on promotions for 14 Coke brands, including Dasani and Minute Maid.

This year, Coke began shopping for athletes to represent the brand during the Olympics, and they began by researching the candidates' popularity. Among women aged 24 to 49, Michelle ranked the third most appealing sports asset to women. The first was the Olympic Games; the second, Lance Armstrong.

Beatriz Perez, vice president for media, sports and entertainment for Coca-Cola North America, said they looked carefully for an athlete with appeal as broad as their customer base. She also cited Michelle's achievements as a silver medalist in 1998 and a bronze medalist in 2002 as a major part of the decision to choose her. "She's a sentimental favorite for Turin because it could be one of her last Games," Perez said. "When you put her values on top of that, that makes it a holistic decision where you know you're going down the right path."

After Michelle withdrew from Nationals, Susan McDermott, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said the following, "We're pulling for Michelle and her decision to withdraw doesn't really affect us. Our theme is 'Live Olympic' and as a two-time Olympic medalist and skating icon, we believe she's already exemplified that theme perfectly -- even if she doesn't compete this time."

Just prior to Michelle's test skate on January 27, McDermott, said the company had not pressured U.S. Figure Skating or the U.S. Olympic Committee to favor Michelle in the selection process. McDermott said Michelle is featured in Coca-Cola’s 'Live Olympics campaign, which emphasizes “what it means to live the Olympics every day, not just for the 17 days of the Games, and we believe she epitomizes that. We want what’s best for her and the team. Michelle is already a two-time Olympic medalist and best-decorated American skater. Hopefully, she’ll pull through.”

There's a TV commercial for Coke with Michelle! During the Opening Ceremony, there was an ad that showed on the screen "Without ice. Apolo would be a speed swimmer. Michelle would be a water skater. And our Coke would be warm." No pictures were shown, but it was clear that you only needed to see the name "Michelle" and know who they were talking about. Hopefully it airs throughout the Olympics!

There is a second TV commercial for Coke that aired during the Olympics. Again, she wasn't shown, but a group of Olympic fanatics cheer Michelle on by chanting "Kwan, get your skate on," and trying to think of other words that rhyme with Kwan. It was cute.

In the coupon circulars which were in Sunday papers on February 12, Michelle was featured in an ad & coupon for Minute Maid.

Update! After Michelle withdrew from the Olympics, Coca-Cola announced that they still are working with Michelle. They pulled the second commercial, which shows the cheer for Michelle, since she is no longer competing. Susan McDermott, a spokeswoman for company, said, "Given that it’s cheering her on to win, hopefully, and she is not competing, we didn’t think the ad was still relevant." However, they are still airing the "Without Ice" commercial. Michelle is still also featured in store advertising and other materials. A representative from the company responded to a member of the MK Forum, and said, "We feel terrible that Michelle had to withdraw from the Olympics, but in doing so, she has truly demonstrated what it means to live Olympic, which reinforces why we chose Michelle to represent Coca-Cola. It takes a champion to win, but it also takes a champion to know when to step down, and we respect her for her decision."


Even With No Gold Medal, Michelle Kwan Is Golden to Marketers
Coke Olympics Promotion Site
Kwan’s Olympic hopes hinge on private skate
Skating With Celebrities: Kwan Most Marketable Olympian
Response from Coke Cola - from MK Forum
Advertisers reevaluate planned Kwan ads

Kwan still could take gold with sponsors
Coke goes quirky with its Olympic ad campaign


One of the print ads
Another graphic
Meet Team Coca-Cola's Athletes Graphic
Top banner ad on NBC's Olympic site
Side banner ad on NBC's Olympic site #1
Side banner ad on NBC's Olympic site #2

Last updated February 21, 2006

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Photo Sarah Hoffman