May 28, 2008
You’ve seen a lot of Yao Ming on this blog in the last week. Certainly, Yao was a big media draw (literally) but I’d like to take a moment to mention Steven Lopez, the other Olympian who joined us for last weekend’s Coca-Cola 600. It would’ve been easy for Lopez, a member of the U.S. Taekwondo Team, to get overshadowed by a 7’6″ international basketball icon, but that didn’t happen. Lopez won over everyone he encountered at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with his tremendous attitude and engaging personality – and he pulled it all off on very little sleep after taking a cross-country red-eye from Vegas just to arrive in time for our events.
Lopez was a dream to work with – his response to requests from our team was “no problem” and his answers to questions from media tactfully weaved in our client’s key messages (in English and Spanish).
You may not have heard of Lopez before reading this, but I suspect you will as we get closer to this summer’s Olympics. He’s already got two gold medals under his (black) belt from the 2000 and 2004 Games and he’s set to make history in Beijing – joining his brother Mark and sister Diana as the first trio of siblings in more than 100 years to compete for the U.S. in the same Olympics. Oh, and his older brother Jean is the team’s coach.
Sure, taekwondo is not typically “must see TV” for NBC’s primetime Olympic broadcast, but the Lopez family’s story might be too good to pass up. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time an Olympian turned success in a niche sport into a burst of stardom. Remember short-track speed skater Apolo Ohno? How about Greco-Roman Wrestler Rulon Gardner? All you need is a great story and a great smile – and Lopez has both (I can say this with confidence since he has appeared on People’s 50 Most Beautiful People list).
Bottom line: Keep an eye on Lopez over the next few months – he’s someone to root for as a fan and a candidate to effectively deliver your brand message if you’re a marketer.