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Bolt Vs. Phelps: You Respond

I'm considering the polls closed on the most marketable Olympian poll. On a worldwide stage, 73 percent of you say that Usain Bolt is the most marketable Olympian from the Beijing games, while only 27 percent of you say it's Michael Phelps.

I'm honestly shocked, as ranked Phelps No. 1 and Bolt No. 2. I find it interesting that many of you thought that Phelps’ appearance on Saturday Night Live seems to have cost him. I also find it interesting that many of you say that Bolt is more personable. Have you even heard him speak? I covered the Olympics wall to wall and I’ve never heard him open his mouth.

Here are the best of the e-mails that we sent to me:

Dr. Blair Doneske:
"Bolt is more marketable because anyone can pretend to do what he did. If you have any stretch of land you can run. You can imagine you are the world’s fastest man. Or, you can run it yourself and be wowed by how much faster he can run the same distance. Phelps is very likeable and personable, but to swim you need infrastructure. You can’t swim year round unless an indoor pool is available. Plus, you have to train just learn how to jump into a pit full of water and not drown, whereas any child can run. Add that to Bolt’s innate youthful exuberance and his ability to play to the crowd and you’ve got a marketing dream. Fastest man alive also has a great ring to it. It is short, makes a strong impression and fits better on a T-shirt than “Winner of the most gold medals at a single Olympics.”

Yusuke Toyoda:
"I voted Bolt for several reasons. For one, your question was about the world stage. Medal count be damned, the “World's Fastest Man” will always be bigger than a swimmer…And while Phelps may be bigger in the U.S. right now, I think his shine will fade as we get further from the Olympics. American consumers have relatively little interest in non-major sports, and unlike figure skating, there is no "Disney on Water" to keep swimmers in the public eye… Bolt, on the other hand, has the European track and field circuit and the World Championships, and those are a big deal to the non-US markets."

Mark Guzman:
"If the product or service is something the athlete uses to compete, the endorsement is valuable because the athlete is an expert in the field (e.g. Tiger-Nike or Tiger-Titleist). Bolt seems to have the edge here as a result of his sport. If you care to run the numbers, compare the market for running shoes and apparel to the market for LZRs and swim caps…If the product is not something the athlete uses to compete, the endorsement serves mainly to draw attention to the product through the athlete's celebrity (e.g. Tiger-Buick). Bolt also seems to have the edge here because he seems much more personable and flamboyant and could therefore become a greater celebrity. I admit that my conclusion here is somewhat subjective, but I'm sure most would agree -- Phelps was less entertaining on SNL than Bolt was following either of his races."

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