MICHAEL PHELPS “REBUILDING TRUST”
Consequences of the photo of Phelps smoking:
Michael was suspended for three months from swimming with his US
Kellogg’s’ decision not to renew Phelps’ contract potentially represents a
loss of millions of dollars in future endorsements.
Speedo, Omega, Visa, and Mazda have stood by Phelps while Subway
has opted for censure for now.
Michael Phelps has not been charged with possession of an illegal drug.
The U.S. Olympic Committee issued a statement on February 1st expressed disappointed in
Michael’s recent behavior; “Michael is a role model . . . aware of the responsibilities and
accountability that come with setting a positive example . . . particularly young people. Michael
has acknowledged that he made a mistake and apologized.”
Immediately following the news stories reporting the photo of Phelps smoking, Michael’s
“aspiration”, “trust” and “endorsement” levels dropped approximately 15 points in each category
according to the Davie Brown brand identity index (DBI).
Over the next year the campaign will:
1. Increase Michael’s reputational “trust” and “endorsement” (DBI) indices by at least 10%.
2. And restore Phelps’s good name within the sporting, news, and public.
The long term objective is to build upon Michael’s “commitment to excellence” in all his
endeavors in and outside of the pool.
Phelps has to take ownership of this crisis immediately and begin to take charge of
managing his image.
The public must be assured that Michael will never betray their trust, ever again.
Regardless of whether Michael competes in the 2012 Olympics, swimming will always
be an important part of his life.
Retain control of his image managing a consistent image conveyed in messages,
events, and endorsements.
Going forward metrics will continually assess the key attributes of “trust” and
Michael’s “endorsement” index evaluating publicized events, press releases,
videos and blogs communicated.
Communication Messages –
1. Phelps is genuinely sorry realizing that he made a mistake and sincerely
desires to win back the public’s trust.
2. Young adults identify with the 23 year old Olympian who is, “one of them”.
3. Living a healthy lifestyle involves making informed responsible choices
including eating right and exercising.
Phelps Positioning Statement
Phelps must project and protect the “all American” image that is consistent with his
astounding Olympic achievements. It is critical that Phelps protect, preserve, and
ensure that the integrity of the United States and the US Olympic Swim Team not be
diminished in any way.
1. Opinion leaders in the press and sports critics.
2. The public especially young adults.
1. Editors and Reporters of Major Metro Newspapers & Sports Publications –
2. Producers of Sports TV & Radio Shows –
a. Real Sports
3. Young Adults ages 13 to 24 and Parents
The Phelps campaign will generate awareness and media coverage in sports and the
press targeting traditional news agencies as well as leveraging the significant influence
of social media on the Internet.
The campaign is comprised of three phases:
1. PHASE I – Apology (Three months)
Apologize for not acting in a manner consistent that of an US Olympic athlete.
2. PHASE II – Building “Trust” (Six months)
Begin to win back the public’s trust by example “in and out of the swimming pool”
aligning Phelps with youth focused endeavors.
3. PHASE III – Ongoing “Commitment to Excellence”
Phelps has generously donated a considerable amount of his recent fortune to
his Phelps Foundation. Michael will continue to put his energies behind causes
that espouse responsible healthy values.
PHASE I (3 months) – Apology
Measure/Identify Audience “trust”
PHASE II (6 months) – Building Trust
Events consistent with Phelps “values”
Continue Measuring/Assessing “trust”
PHASE III – On-going Commitment to Excellence
Align Phelps with endeavors consistent with
his Olympic achievements going forward
PHASE ONE – Apology
For the three months immediately following the “incident” Michael will maintain a low
profile expressing sincere remorse apologizing and assuring the public of his
commitment to act in the manner consistent with their expectations.
Positive news stories and messages will be released to offset the considerable negative
news content generated from the “incident” that has dominated the news hole (i.e.
Michael’s apology to China).
PHASE TWO – Building “Trust”
Phelps’s suspension from swimming with the Olympic Swim Team will have ended. The
campaign will be evaluated making necessary adjustments to ensure that Phelps “trust”
(DBI) index increases by the 10% benchmark over the next six months.
Carefully scripted communiqués and events will project Phelps’ “all American” image in while
protecting and preserving the integrity of the US Olympic Team.
Subtle appearances with his US Olympic Swim Team-mates “in and out of the pool” will
begin to mend the damaged reputation to Phelps and win back the public’s “trust”.
Phelps will continue to support and participate in youth oriented events and associations
such as the Boys & Girls Club that he has had a long standing relationship with.
PHASE THREE – Ongoing “Commitment to Excellence”
Michael Phelps has won more gold medals than any Olympian who has ever
participated in the games. Having restored Phelps good name Michael can devote his
energies to his passion swimming.
Michael with endorse products and services that promote responsible informed choices
such as exercise and eating healthy.
Constant careful management and monitoring of Michael’s image will ensure that
his reputation and Foundation remain on track.
CAMPAIGN METRICS –
An immediate and ongoing commitment must be made to monitor, measure, and manage
Surveys are to be conducted after each event monitoring key stakeholders
opinions and attitudes.
Daily news generated including blogs will track the percentage of news devoted
to Phelps assessing tone, content, and impact on Phelps “trust” image compared
to other news and celebrities.
In depth analysis of the public’s and sports industry’s attitudes’ of Phelps is to be
Other factors used in evaluating the overall campaign performance include:
Was the campaign over budget?
What unforeseen factors were not accounted for?
Tracking of calls placed during the campaign, unsolicited and solicited.
Other forms of feedback such as focus groups.
A detailed analysis of how and why individual companies stayed with Phelps.