Business of Sport

Is Oscar SA's most marketable?

2011-08-29 11:12
Oscar Pistorius (AP)
David Brooke

Cape Town - South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius has become the poster boy for athletes with a disability and has broken down barriers between the ‘Paralympics’ and the ‘Olympics’. The Paralympics still has a long way to go in terms of global appeal but Pistorius has made sure that athletes with disabilities have an equal opportunity to test themselves against able-bodied athletes on the biggest stage – he’s even started outshining some of the golden men and women who light up the athletics world.

Whilst many people were talking about the prospect of Usain Bolt breaking his own 100m world record at the IAAF World Championships currently taking place in Daegu, South Korea (that didn’t end too well now did it?), Oscar was wooing the crowd with his feel-good story. Pistorius made history on Sunday when he became the first athlete with a disability to run at an able-bodied World Championship and proved that he was not just there to make up the numbers, qualifying third in his heat to earn a spot in Monday’s semi-finals.

Pistorius’ welcome in South Korea has been unprecedented and the public have taken to him like no other South African sportsman or woman before. He’s South Africa’s superstar on a world stage, which begs me to question, is he currently the most marketable South African sportsperson on a global stage?

Sponsors are clamouring to be associated with him, with the likes of Nike, Oakley, British Telecoms, Thierry Mugler, international law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, the Combined Motor Holdings Group and global leaders in orthopaedics, Ossur, signing on with the Blade Runner to help him reach his goals and take brand ‘Oscar’ to an international audience.

There’s also been talk about a possible movie of Oscar’s life, a movie which wouldn’t be made if it didn’t have global appeal. Can you see a movie of Steven Pienaar’s life being screened in America? I for one can’t, despite Steven Pienaar being one of the most marketable sportsmen in South Africa and abroad.

If you look at brands such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, you will notice that they now venture to Asia during pre-season in order to boost their brand internationally. The number crunchers know the kind of money the club can make via such a huge audience and it seems like Oscar is heading that way too with his popularity at these recent World Championships. I’m expecting even more companies to jump on the Oscar bandwagon as it rolls into the London Olympics in 2012.

You see, there’s something unique about Oscar, he makes us all believe that anything is possible and if you set your mind towards a goal, you can’t let anything stand in your way of reaching it.

David Brooke is the Commercial Manager at Sport24.co.za

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