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IMG exec calls Ovechkin a "global icon"

IMG Worldwide has a few people you might have heard of in their client portfolio--Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Giselle Bundchen, Heidi Klum and Peyton and Eli Manning, for example. Until this week, though, the sports media and entertainment company wasn't in the hockey business, although they used to represent Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr and several dozen other players.

So, does today's news that the agency will be handling marketing, sponsorship and licensing for Alex Ovechkin signal a return to hockey?

"This is really about Alex as an individual that has the ability to transcend his sport and be successful in the commercial arena," David Abrutyn, IMG's Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Global Consulting told me Monday afternoon. "We're committed to Alex, and not much beyond that at this point."

That's a pretty nice leap from the days when Ovie got a trim at the Hair Cuttery and then got his face on Metro buses touting cost-effective haircuts. Not that there's anything wrong with Hair Cuttery deals, by any means, but the plans seem a bit grander now.

"I just think from an IMG perspective, we've got a very long and distinct track record of working with global icons," Abrutyn said. "Clearly he's one of if not the most exciting players in today's game. The way that he plays, with sort of the energy and passion and excitement, when brand marketers are looking to align themselves with athletes or talent to cut through the very crowded marketing arena, those are things from an image standpoint that will translate very clearly. Alex's passion and excitement are gonna be difference-makers for him and difference-makers for those companies that we align him with."

What sort of companies? Well, obviously Ovechkin already has a growing portfolio of sponsors, which has included Energizer, CCM and his own brand of apparel.

"But beyond that he's relatively clean," Abrutyn said. "If you look at the types of companies that align themselves with talent, its usually ones that are consumer electronics companies, beverages, either traditional or energy drinks. I think the restaurant category has been a big user of athletes, and I think we'll look to establish him with companies that not only have a U.S. presence or a Canadian presence, but a global presence, given his status in the world."

Abrutyn mentioned Ovechkin in the same breath as Gretzky and Lemieux, though he said that his off-ice success will demand continued on-ice excellence, and, to reach the ultimate levels, world and international championships. His language skills wouldn't be an issue, he said, and could even be a strength.

"Look, Alex came to this country four years ago and spoke very little English, and he's clearly dedicating himself to becoming more and more proficient at it," Abrutyn said. "That's a part of what makes him who he is. Brand marketers can use that to their advantage in some respects, and as he gets more and more proficient, even more so....Brand marketers can be very creative at turning something like this into a positive. His commitment to learning the language is another reason he's going to be successful in his off-ice endeavors...."

"From a marketing standpoint, we believe in aligning ourselves with global superstars, and Alex is certainly one of them. So this is as much about Alex's ability as a marketer and a product mover as it is a hockey player."

Not too many other global superstars operating in the D.C. sports landscape at the moment.


By Dan Steinberg  |  November 2, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

Somewhere, there's a little boy named Sidney crying in his race car bed. =(

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | November 2, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Can't be true. Just last year Wilbon said Ovie was a "local story".

Posted by: uncatim | November 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

LeftCoastCapsFan--you just made my day--what a great image!

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | November 2, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

maybe he can be in an add w/ tiger and cross check him into next week due to tiger dissing the nhl...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | November 2, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

As much as I like the guy, people wouldn't come out in droves to watch Rick Nash drive a zamboni down the street in New York.

Heck, take the other two Hart trophy finalists, Malkin and Datsyuk. No chance fans cram the NHL store for either of these guys.

The only guy close is Crosby, and that's because the league is pushing him like crazy. And globally, he's not even a blip on the radar.

Wait until the Olympics. He'll be one of the most popular guys in Vancouver. (If he's not hurt!)

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 2, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

other notes on this story.

David Abrutyn is a Potomac Maryland native and used to work for the Caps back in the day of US Air arena. He has come a long way

Posted by: diner99 | November 2, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I have nothing against golf, but it always rubs me the wrong way when golfers talk about other sports. Tiger has put down soccer as well.

Posted by: sitruc | November 2, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"Somewhere, there's a little boy named Sidney crying in his race car bed. =("

It's ok, he'll just catch those tears in the Stanley Cup.

Posted by: RoachVA141 | November 2, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

For the love of God why did he have to win a Cup before OV? Now you've woken up all of the Pennsyltuckians that should be in Kansas City.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | November 2, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"For the love of God why did he have to win a Cup before OV?"

Because the Pens were the better team.

Posted by: RoachVA141 | November 2, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I went to Hebrew school and graduated Churchill HS with David Abrutyn, and he was a big Caps fan back then.

Posted by: TheFingerman | November 2, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

In all honesty, if you are picking between Ovechkin and Crosby for ANY type of marketing issue, you would pick Ovie. Crosby has the personality of an after dinner mint.

Posted by: dcsportsdude | November 2, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Typical name for a Pengwhine fan: Cockroach141. Most of their fans are cockroaches. They scatter when the lights come on. Go back in the trash can known as Pittsburgh.

Posted by: Randy_Hawkins | November 2, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"In all honesty, if you are picking between Ovechkin and Crosby for ANY type of marketing issue, you would pick Ovie. Crosby has the personality of an after dinner mint."

I'm not gonna argue that, the fact is Ovechkin's way marketable, and seriously good for him.

I was basically responding to the first commentor, my point being: Crosby and Ovechkin weigh Stanley Cups more than marketability. And if Ovechkin cares about being marketed more than winning Stanley Cups, then that's trouble for Caps fans. And I assume you all care more about Stanley Cups.

Truthfully, I wouldn't have posted in the first place except the original commentor brought up Crosby in response to a bog post that didn't even mention him.

"Typical name for a Pengwhine fan: Cockroach141. Most of their fans are cockroaches. They scatter when the lights come on. Go back in the trash can known as Pittsburgh."

Seriously dude? That's what you came up with? It's not even my screen name.

Posted by: RoachVA141 | November 2, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Roach, trust me, Ovi cares more about winning the Cup than about the marketing. He's said numerous times he'd trade all of his awards for the Cup. I'm not worried in the least that Ovi will lose that desire.

Posted by: dfe1 | November 3, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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