GIANTS EQUAL GOLD? Swimming superstar Michael Phelps is hoping history keeps repeating itself. Four years ago, the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl — and later that year Phelps would go on to win eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. “Maybe it was a good sign heading into the Olympics that the Giants won,” said Phelps, a Baltimore Ravens fan, on a break in a press event for Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders brand Wednesday. Asked how many gold medals he is aiming for in London, Phelps modestly said that he has finishing times in mind in certain events and hitting them is his main objective, not the color of the medals. As for which events he will enter, Phelps said that is a “private” matter.

Phelps’ introduction to Head & Shoulders products came through swimming, as he was looking for a shampoo to remove chlorine. It worked so well that last August the P&G brand signed a two-year contract as a sponsor for Phelps. In return, he is appearing in a 30-second Head & Shoulders TV commercial, airing now in the U.S. and the U.K., as part of the consumer product company’s “Wash in Confidence” campaign, which will coincide with the Olympics. As part of P&G’s plan to raise $5 million to benefit local youth sports programs, Head & Shoulders has set up a Facebook page. Every time a fan e-mails the page with best wishes for Phelps, Head & Shoulders will make a donation to the sports fund, Hanneke Faber, global vice president of Head & Shoulders and Pantene, said. While Phelps is clearly the international star, Head & Shoulders is also sponsoring more locally known athletes, such as British bicyclist Mark Cavendish and French handball player Nikola Karabatic.

This story first appeared in the February 9, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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