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As an Advertiser, Would You Sponsor Lance Armstrong Now?

How Lance Armstrong’s Future Looks, Commercially.


Lance Armstrong Promise
IMage courtesy of Scott Mecum

So, the sporting world, the Internet, and everyone else, is talking about Lance Armstrong after his full and frank interview with Oprah (which airs on Thursday and Friday this week). The truth will come out.

The once noble, untouchable cyclist who won seven Tour-De-France titles was shamed last year when he was found to be yet another sporting hero to fall foul of doping. For as long as he was a winner, he adamantly denied taking any kind of enhancements, and built a reputation as a drug-free superman. Of course, all that came crashing around him. His titles were stripped, his titles were taken from him, and he was given a lifetime ban from the sport.

But there are always bigger implications when something like this happens. Everyone knows Tiger Woods made more money from corporate sponsors than he did from tournament wins, and they scattered to the nine winds when his squeaky clean image was tarnished.

By comparison, Armstrong did something far worse. His shaming came from something directly related to his success, not private life antics, and his reputation was directly linked to the sponsors he had. Sponsors that dropped him quicker than a hot coal when the doping scandal came to light.

Just a few of the sponsors who kicked Armstrong to the curb in the last few weeks of October 2012 included:

NIKE - The big kahuna, they cannot have their "just do it" attitude linked with doping.

OAKLEY - A great brand, no way they would tarnish their image with this.

TREK - A bicycle brand, who'd want a bike linked to a cheat?

GIRO - Bike helmets. Again, cheaters don't prosper.

HONEY STINGER - They make food gels for athletes. Not gels for doping cyclists.

RADIOSHACK - Hard to see the link to cycling here, but they dropped him anyway.

24 HR FITNESS - Why work your butt off at the gym when you can take performance-enhancing drugs? See the conflict there?

Armstrong also stepped down as chairman of the very organization he founded in 1997, following his successful battle with cancer. Namely, the Livestrong Foundation. And, a top Dutch bank pulled it's support from professional cycling, taking its $20 million a year with it.

All in all, that's a lot of money to disappear from the sport, and from Armstrong's life. But here's the big question…will he ever get it back?

The Oprah interview is not unexpected. The lifetime ban, and the exodus of supporters, left Armstrong with a dilemma. Stay quiet, and kiss any remaining career goodbye. Or, come clean and hope to win back sponsors and the general public. Clearly, his well-paid PR people chose the latter. And it will probably pay off.

Right now, he's out of bounds. Only a suicidal brand would pair themselves with Armstrong. But over time, and with the right kind of public speaking engagements, he could win back favor with the crowds, and the corporate bigwigs. And once everyone has forgotten about the whole sordid incident, or at least, forgave him for it, the money will start rolling in again. You may even seeproduct placement opportunities and cameo roles in movies.

Armstrong is no quitter. He may not be a man of his word, but he's a man with drive. And that will no doubt see him back on the road to success.

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