The Olympics can bring much fame to athletes, especially to those who score medals. Ryan Lochte is such an athlete. He is one of the world’s most famous swimmers, earning 12 medals in the Olympics with six gold, three silver, and three bronze medals. His earnings make him one of the most decorated swimmers in Olympic history. All of this bodes well for brand image. However, Lochte’s actions while at the 2016 Olympics affect his brand image differently.
Brand image is all about perception. Consumers choose brands based on good experiences with products or people. If a brand touts that it is superior to other brands, and consumers find that this is true or believe it to be true, they continue to trust that particular brand. However, when a product fails, consumers begin to question its validity and seek another brand to take its place. This is why it is important for celebrities, such as Ryan Lochte, to maintain a good image.
At this year’s Olympic games, Lochte made up a story that made national news. Later, he confessed to embellishing the story. This leaves the public questioning his validity, making it harder for them to support him. Therefore, Lochte lost four major endorsements from Speedo, Ralph Lauren Corp., Syneron-Candela, and Airweave. Companies notoriously drop celebrities for bad behavior as they do not want to be associated with it or appear that they condone it. If they condone the bad behavior, then the public is likely to question the companies’ choice in a spokesperson, making it more likely that the public will choose other products in disagreement.
Therefore, Lochte’s actions affect his own brand image, making him less marketable. While he has earned many awards, people often remember other people more for their misdeeds because these come more shockingly. Thus, Lochte may be a decorated swimmer, but the shock value of his misdeed may harm his brand image for years to come. However, some celebrities overcome misdeeds (e.g., Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, etc.) and eventually recover. Yet, this takes time. Ryan Lochte may have a bit of a break as he is slated to compete on “Dancing With the Stars.” This highly popular show will keep him in the limelight, for which he must be on his best behavior in order to redeem himself. Further, Pine Bros., a cough drop company, recently endorsed Lochte, claiming that the corporate world is too reactive and harsh.
Time will tell the damage to Lochte’s brand image. For now, he gets a few lucky breaks, but he doesn’t completely escape the havoc already done to his image. Perception is everything to a brand.