By Barry Janoff
July 16, 2016: In what he said would be his last quest for Olympic glory, track and field icon Usain Bolt is heading to the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro loaded with an array of extensive marketing support that include several campaign that go inside the life of and spotlight the motivations that earned him six gold medals and the title, "The Fastest Man Alive."
Bolt, who won three gold medals in Beijing in 2008 and another three in London in 2012, will be in Rio to seek wins in three events — 100 meter, 200 meter and 4x100 meter relay — for the Jamaica National Team.
But he will be far from alone.
Jamaica is sending 63 athletes to the Games.
Bolt, 29, himself is coming with backing from such marketing partners as Gatorade, Virgin Media, Nissan Brazil and Puma, each of whom have unveiled multi-platform Olympics-related campaigns starring Bolt.
In addition, Bolt, who also has deals with Hublot and ANA Airlines, is getting full-blown exposure with a cover story in the July 12 issue Sports Illustrated.
He earns about $30 million from endorsements, according to industry analysts. He is handled by Ricky Simms of Pace Sports Management.
Gatorade this week unveiled "The Boy Who Learned To Fly," an animated 60-second spot for a longer version that will break on Gatorade.com July 19. The narration tracks Bolt from his childhood in Jamaica and the challenges he faced en route to world-class status as an acclaimed runner.
Text offers, "The story of the fastest man in the world. A story that almost never happened.'
Bolt is also featured in a separate Gatorade campaign, "Fuel The Love," that includes Serena Williams and NBA star Paul George.
A spot from Puma, "More Energy. More Flex," which broke this week, shows Bolt testing the Ignite Dual, a new shoe "that fuses flexibility and energy return for a faster run."
In “Bolt vs. Flame,” a new two-minute, documentary-style video from Nissan Brazil, an official domestic partner for the Games, Bolt is challenged to take on what is called "his most difficult and unexpected competitor yet — fire."
The premise is based on Bolt's world record 100-meter race,which he ran in 9.58 seconds on Aug. 16, 2009 in Berlin in the final of the World Athletics Championship.
According to Ronaldo Znidarsis, vp-marketing-sales for Nissan Brazil, “Usain Bolt’s daring attitude to always go further is inspiring. We wanted people to experience the inner strength of the most famous sprinter in history when posed with a challenge to reach even further.
"This is also an opportunity for fans to see Usain with his custom Nissan GT-R, which soon will be available in Brazil. To see the world’s fastest man driving the world’s fastest mass-produced car is exhilarating,” said Znidarsis.
Nissan Brazil is supplying more than 4,200 vehicles to serve as the official Olympic fleet, including the Nissan Kicks, a new crossover vehicle that has been named the official car of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The "Bolt vs. Flame" project is supported by a social media platform featuring a series of 9.58 second videos and movie posters created from 19,000 real matchsticks being lit on fire for dramatic effect, per Nissan.
Additional footage and behind-the-scenes videos featuring Bolt will be released over the next month.
Also playing off of Bolt's 9.58 100-meter record is a new Virgin Media multi-platform campaign, anchored by a TV spot that runs 100 seconds and is divided into various segments of 9.58 seconds each.
The commercial, "Be The Fastest," with voiceover from fellow track & field icon Michael Johnson, shows how Bolt made his way from childhood in Jamaica to the top of the running and Olympic world.
"Our new campaign, the latest in our long-running partnership with Usain, celebrates a scorching summer of sport where he is going to play a huge part and brings to life what it feels like to ‘Be the Fastest,'" Kerris Bright, CMO for Virgin Media, said in a statement regarding the campaign unveiled this week.
Support for the effort includes Internet, outdoor, in-cinema and social media. Lead agency is BBH London.
Virgin Media unveiled the ad by transforming 100 meters of London's River Thames into a video screen and playing the commercial on it, with Bolt in attendance.
According to Virgin Media, "Usain Bolt’s dream to become a professional runner began when he won his first big race at 15. Today he works to fuel his love of sports forward by supporting the dreams of young athletes in Jamaica," including the Usain Bolt Foundation.
Nissan's effort shows Bolt being challenged in a fictional “Fire Research Laboratory” to contend against the speed of a flame. Bolt shares what it feels like to be the fastest person on Earth and how he prepares to compete on the world’s biggest stage.
“I set goals for myself," he says in the video. "My goal is to be the greatest.”
The video, filmed in Bolt’s home country of Jamaica, also shows the sprinter driving his custom Nissan GT-R painted in “Bolt Gold.”
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