For computer viruses everywhere, today is something akin to the day Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal. Two years ago today, the Storm botnet (sometimes called the Storm worm botnet) had a career day, sending a record 57 million emails in a 24-hour period.
It’s been a rocky—we could even say stoney—year for Michael Phelps, America’s golden boy who last year left Beijing with the most gold medals ever awarded an Olympian in a single games. Riding high after being called the greatest swimmer of all time, Phelps found his way into a very public scandal when photos emerged of the swimmer holding a bong. But America is nothing if not forgiving, especially to its athletes. Not so many months later, the media has forgotten Phelps’ youthful follies and he’s back in the pool. His next big opponent: Shaquille O’Neal.
Nearly 3,000 athletes from 200 nations will compete at this year's swimming and diving championships. But extraordinary attention will go to one: Michael Phelps. In his first major meet since the bong-picture scandal that cost him a lucrative endorsement deal with Kellogg's, he'll race for redemption. Other celebs have rebounded from bigger infractions.
This hasn't been a good week for the celebrity product hawking industry. First there was Michael Phelps and the case of the bubbling bong. Now the brand called Chris Brown is under fire after allegations that the suave R&B singer Chris Brown left bruises on his girlfriend pop singer Rihanna Sunday night before the Grammys.
When I met with Stoute last year he made it clear he saw himself pioneering a new model between brands and bands. However when the musical bait and switch was revealed last summer (there's really a corporation behind this song!), the strategy backfired: many saw the deal as a deceptively lame attempt by a company trying to co-opt culture and an artist selling out.
Now, of course, the strategy has really backfired. Wrigleys will probably go into hibernation mode, recovering from the shock of making such a bad bet on a personality. Between Brown and Phelps, brand managers across Madison Avenue are being reminded that even glossy celebs—who in marketing are typically regarded as expensive, but safe and efficient—are probably more dicey now than throwing their budgets into some Alternate Reality Game.
Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, stopped by our offices recently. He didn't look like anyone special. Without his gold hardware or a pool to churn through, he could have been any run-of-the-mill mall rat: iPod buds in his ears, thumbs texting on his phone, baggy jeans with his boxers peeking out. Surely not the picture of a history-defying figure.