Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
Missy Franklin - American, 17, Swimming (New)
Two narratives ran in parallel lanes at London’s new Aquatics Centre last summer. One was the abdication of Michael Phelps, who was afforded a regal send-off from the pool despite interjections from Ryan Lochte and Chad le Clos. The other was the emergence of a gaggle of teenage stars led by the remarkable Missy Franklin, the 6ft 1in daughter of a Canadian Football League player.
The 17-year-old won four gold medals and a silver in Stratford – confirming the potential she showed in taking three golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2011 world championships – and claimed the hearts of millions of Americans in the process. Her achievements also earned her the 2012 James E. Sullivan Award for the year’s top US amateur athlete and the FINA bauble for World Female Swimmer of the Year, all while still at high school in Colorado.
From there, she has committed herself to swimming for the University of California, Berkeley next year and, to do so, will hold off turning professional and signing endorsement deals until 2015. Still, with NBC set to ramp up its coverage of Olympic sports and a nation looking to a new generation of sporting stars, plenty will try to tempt her away from her studies, or at least proffer business cards as bookmarks.
Outside the pool, Franklin leads the life of a fairly normal teenager – albeit one with 375,000 followers on Twitter who makes occasional appearances on ABC drama series Pretty Little Liars. EC