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Is Alex Ovechkin Ready To Make His Move To Higher Marketing Ground?

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

Crosby (L) and Ovechkin (R) in a scene from a TV ad touting the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic on NBC.December 7, 2010: Alex Ovechkin has become a star on the ice for the NHL. But is he now ready to move on up to the marketing level of Roger Federer, Derek Jeter and even Tiger Woods before his fall?

Procter & Gamble thinks so. The global consumer products giant has signed Ovechkin, who plays left wing for the NHL's Washington Capitals, to a multi-year deal with its Gillette brand that will put him front and center in a multi-media campaign. Ovechkin, who was the NHL's  No. 1 overall draft pick in 2004, joins a multi-national sports marketing Gillette Brand Ambassador roster that includes tennis icon Federer, the New York Yankees' Jeter and soccer star Thierry Henry.

Woods had been a major player with Gillette for several years until his personal life became pubic following Woods' one-car accident during Thanksgiving weekend in 2009. Gillette is still listed as a marketing partner on Woods' official Web site.

Ovechkin stars in an NHL-produced DVD from Warner Home Video . . . According to Gillette, the first campaign includes two TV spots, print and online ads, as well as POP materials featuring Ovechkin's name and likeness. Although the pact initially targets marketing efforts in Moscow-born Ovechkin's native region of Russia and Eastern Europe, Gillette has opened the door for him to become a brand spokesman in North America. Under terms of the deal, Ovechkin will represent Gillette in charity programs that will contribute to youth hockey development in Russia and Eastern Europe and the Washington, D.C. area.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

Ovechkin also is getting major exposure this month as part of the HBO series, 24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. The series spotlights Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and their respective teams  as they prepare for the outdoor Bridgestone Winter Classic at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Jan. 1, to be shown live on NBC. In addition, the league's two-time MVP (2008, 2009) is the focus of Alex Ovechkin: The Gr8, a new NHL-produced DVD from Warner Home Video; and the recently published book, The Ovechkin Project (John Wiley & Sons).

He currently stars with Crosby in NHL pre-Winter Classic marketing via TV spots airing on NBC, Versus and NHL Network.

. . . and in a new book from Wiley & Sons."We're excited about our partnership with Alex. He is one of today's fiercest competitors and a dedicated professional who is committed to working with us to help develop younger hockey players," Svetlana Stishkova, Gillette marketing director, Russia, said in a statement. "We are looking forward to working with him in Russia and Eastern Europe to help us launch the latest addition to the Gillette Fusion family and the new series of Gillette products for sensitive skin."

According to Ovechkin, "It's an honor to work with Gillette, the world's leading grooming brand. I look forward to partnering with Gillette to help young hockey players learn the game and to help them be the best they can be in hockey and in life."

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