Posted August 21, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk
At first glance, the "Hilton Swim to Beijing Relay" sounds like something the Hilton Hotel chain relied on heiress, celebutante and dubious pride-and-joy, Paris Hilton, to conjure up: With a whopping 6,250 miles in between Los Angeles and Beijing, let’s just say it was lucky for the other relay swimmers that this swim to Beijing was more metaphorical than literal.
Paddling in pools all across the United States, swimmers participated in the cause marketing event by contributing laps to reach a 6,250 total for each of those L.A.-to-Beijing miles. In return, Hilton Hotels & Resorts is donating upwards of $100,000 to swim education programs. Super. But even more impressive is their major marketing coup that undoubtedly cost the chain beaucoup: Michael Phelps was secured to begin and end the relay.
Phelps, the eight-gold-medal golden boy is officially worth more than his weight in gold when it comes to marketing contracts, so it will be interesting to see whether other major players in the ailing travel industry have gotten in on the Phelps Phenomenon. Hilton Hotels & Resorts, while oh so altruistically donating a nice chunk of change to nonprofits, has also reminded the world about the pools in its hotels. Ooo, pooooooools. Don’t you wish you had a pool? Well, you could—if you stayed in a Hilton.
Here’s another great marketing opp: The camera pans down the aisle of an airplane and finally settles on a contented face that seems familiar somehow. Why, it’s Michael Phelps. Phelps closes his Sports Illustrated magazine and looks to the camera. “My six-foot, four-inch height and freakishly large feet used to make air travel a pain. I’d be crammed into tiny seats and have to worry that leg cramps would affect my unparalleled swimming ability. But on AIRLINE X, they’ve got plenty of legroom—even enough for the best Olympic Athlete ever: me."
I’ll offer just a few more freebie ideas before signing off (people pay me for this stuff, you know): This time, the commercial opens on a big band in a glamorous ballroom. The camera pulls back to reveal women in sequin gowns and men in tuxedos dancing to the music or seated at bountifully laden dinner tables. The camera begins to narrow in on a table and we notice that this tuxedoed man is none other than Michael Phelps, wearing all eight of his Olympic gold medals! Phelps smiles and looks to the camera. “Hi, you probably already know me, but I’m Michael Phelps. Ever since I won my eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, I’ve had a hard time finding a place to wear all of them where I don’t feel overdressed. But here, in the CRUISELINE Y ballroom, I fit right in. Everyone and everything is dressed to the nines in swanky style—though no one can compete with my jewelry. Plus, this cruise line has an amazing buffet of fine gourmet foods. I recommend the glazed donuts because they’re small and round and shiny. Just like my eight gold medals."
That’s right folks, I’m giving these ideas away, but they’re really just the tip of the iceberg. What about a pirate/Olympics/Michael Phelps-themed seafood restaurant called Pieces of Eight? Luxury cruise speedboats being billed as “just as aerodynamic and hairless as Michael Phelps"? SeaWorld shows where Michael Phelps proves that he does the dolphin kick better than actual dolphins? Intriguing, no? Contact me to discuss my consultant rates on an hourly or project-by-project basis.
Also, Michael Phelps, I’m willing to work directly for you. Just think of the money you could be making—it’s the chance of a lifetime. Or should I say, it’s a golden opportunity? (Puns, Michael! All of these could be yours—and more! Call me!!)
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