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@Gregory - Great point. Organizations rarely think about the impact of experience on their brand and consequent reduction in value. Those soft things are important.

@Paul - thank you for arguing. I see you have been thinking about social vs. traditional vs. advertising, too. Yes, I used an obvious example that the marketing sponsors would go for. The more interesting stories would be about those athletes that almost made the cut, or those who bet everything on the games and lost or placed second (they say that feels worse than placing third). Also, I am a strong believer in integrating media. Online you can measure success in many ways - you've got to have clear goals and strong calls to action, too. I am working on a post on Web measurement as I recently attended a panel discussion on that. Good hearing from you and liking your new layout/design.

I guess the challenge I would throw back at you regarding the Phelps example is does it make sense to build personal channel around him when the sheer scale of his popularity is going to far out-scale the usefulness of tools designed for 'conversation'? Even 'hard-core' Phelps fans could be in the hundreds of thousands. Is there a real one-on-one conversation here?

In addition, is there a need to humanize him at all? As a pure symbol of athletic achievement, guts and hard-work is he not more valuable in the symbolic? Nike made a myth out of Jordan, and was very successful. Doesn't taking advantage of Phelps as a symbol lend itself more to dramatic TV ads and short viral vids?

I'm just playing devil's advocate here of course :). But I think there is value in arguing how a social media campaign around Phelps success would benefit his sponsors more/the same as a more traditional Jordan-esq approach. Or do you just do both? Or more importantly, how do you measure if either one is a success?

Hi Gregory,

I posed the question on LinkedIn [http://tinyurl.com/6hedme ] and was just about crucified by people who thought I was being stupid ;-) You are right and my post reaches pretty much the same conclusion in a subtle way. Sure, they get gold on ad placement, were the companies "buys" smart marketing investments? As a commercial entity, they got the commercial side down - but did they get how the conversation is more about the athletes and the interaction with the audience? Being able to see without interruptions would help fans. Would fans be willing to sponsor the expense?

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