Lance Armstrong: will his brand Livestrong?
Lance Armstrong is more than a man who has won 7 Tour de France titles. He is more than a man who has beaten cancer. And he is more than a man who has raised $500 million USD for his Livestrong Charity.
Lance Armstrong is a global brand, a global icon.
But what impact will his decision to lay down his guns in the fight with USADA, have on not just his endorsement dollar and brand value, but that of athletes who dream of walking in his rather large footsteps?
USADA said Armstrong would be banned for life from the sport of cycling and called for “forfeiture of any medals, titles, winnings, finishes, points and prizes.”
In reality, this will not happen. But this is an agency that wants to be seen to be flexing their muscles right now. And Armstrong was their biggest fight to date.
Let’s answer the question in 2 parts. 1, what impact will it have on the Armstrong brand and the sport of cycling? And 2, what impact will it have on the sports dollar in general?
Nike, a loyal partner of Armstrong’s Livestrong Charity, were quick to issue a statement declaring their support: “Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.” This is not surprising given Nike’s unwavering support of Tiger Woods, during the scandal that rocked his personal life in 2010. The bottom line is that Nike is a company that trades off embracing rebellious or controversial figures.
The experts agree, Armstrong is estimated to lose $10 million in endorsement deals because of his decision to surrender to USADA. But let’s put this figure in perspective. He is at the end of his career, and cycling is not a mainstream sport in the USA.
In the corporate world the sport of cycling is ‘tainted’. Just like Athletics in the 1990′s, cycling has to overcome the stigma that you can only win the Tour de France if you are a drug cheat. When it comes to spending the endorsement dollars on an athlete, or a sport for that matter, cycling and golf are not as innocent as they once were.
My big pick for the endorsement dollar in the next decade is women’s sport.
For what its worth, I own a framed cycling jersey that is signed by Lance Armstrong. It will continue to hang proudly on my office wall. In my eyes his signature represents excellence and the fight against cancer. We, the fans, will ultimately decide the value of the Lance Armstrong brand.
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.