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Winning Storytelling Olympic Gold
Before the 2018 Winter Olympics, Adam Rippon wasn’t exactly a household name.
Despite being a successful figure skater on the national circuit, Adam largely went under the public radar until the 2018 Winter Games when he became the first openly gay winter athlete to win an Olympic medal.
This accomplishment shot Adam into superstardom. He went on countless morning talk shows, conducted dozens of public interviews and picked up nearly 800,000 followers on social media. He even appeared on Dancing With the Stars and was included in Time magazine’s list of Most Influential People of 2018. Here’s how he described his meteoric rise in popularity during an interview at the time:
“Six years ago, I had no money to my name,” Adam said. “I was living in my coach’s basement. I just leased a car and I got a letter in the mail saying that my credit was so bad that they needed to take the car back.”
The Power of A Good Story
Adam’s success at the Olympics certainly changed his circumstances, as his new marketability to consumers attracted the attention of sponsors.
Come this Friday at the start of the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, thousands of athletes will look to emulate Adam to gain a following and earn lucrative brand sponsorships.
To do so, they’ll need to do more than win on the field.
For Adam, it wasn’t just his accomplishment on the ice that brought him success and fame. Adam’s rags-to-riches backstory, likable demeanor on camera and passionate advocacy for gay rights were instrumental in cementing his popularity among brands and consumers.
Research shows people remember stories, not statistics. At the end of the day, the public remembers what Adam did for the advancement of the LGBTQ+ community more than his bronze medal. For the athletes competing this summer, their backstories, public images, personalities and advocacy work will be equally, if not more important, than their achievements in competition.
Successfully marketing a product or service follows a similar blueprint to building a personal brand. Businesses seeking greater visibility in the public eye must consider more than their product specifications or the defining features of their services and instead focus on their corporate stories, brand identities and public images.