Several world-famous Olympic athletes have been grouped together for sponsorship by Orrville-based J.M. Smucker Co. as the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, draw closer.
The company released names of athletes it will be involved with for the event. The two highest profile individuals are two figure skating champions — Kristi Yamaguchi (who won in 1992) and Evan Lysacek, (who won in 2010).
Lysacek is attempting to become the first man to win back-to-back Olympic titles in more than half a century.
In addition to financial support, a variety of food products from Smucker’s participating brands will be made available to the athletes and coaches at each of the U.S. Olympic Training Centers and at additional team venues, the company said.
The athletes will be featured in advertising for four Smucker brands: Smucker jam and jelly products, Folgers coffee, Jif peanut butter and Smucker’s Uncrustables frozen sandwiches.
“The Winter Games represent a unique opportunity for families across the country to gather together and celebrate the remarkable achievements of these world-class athletes,” said Richard Smucker, chief executive officer, in a news release. “We’ve partnered with an exceptional group of athletes, and we look forward to gathering with our own families during the Games to watch and share in their memorable Olympic moments.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee on Tuesday also launched its “100 Days to Sochi” live blog and marketing campaign, leading up to the games.
The campaign marks Smucker’s first Olympic sponsorship, said spokeswoman Maribeth Burns. The company has sponsored other sporting events, such as the Stars on Ice professional ice skating tour, but has decided now to focus on the Olympics.
“It’s really an opportunity to reach a much broader audience and a multigenerational audience of consumers through a variety of avenues,” Burns said. “Families have great joy and fun in building on the moments by gathering for these particular events, rooting on our team and taking great pride in the hard work and dedication of our U.S. athletes to get to that world stage.”
Burns declined to disclose financial information regarding the sponsorships or marketing associated with the program.
The company took “a good, hard look at the athletes we thought our consumers would be able to follow,” said Burns. That included athletes such as figure skaters and sports such as slopestyle freeskiing, which would appeal to the younger generation.
The sponsorship will include some personal appearances by the athletes for Smucker. The company will also be using social media promotions, including logos on brands and opportunities for consumers to follow and engage with the athletes online.
Nutritionists at U.S. Olympic training facilities have developed recipes using the four Smucker brands and the company will share those with consumers, Burns said.
Smucker is an official sponsor of the 2014 and 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams competing in Sochi and Rio de Janeiro.
The sponsored athletes for the Sochi games are:
• J.R. Celski: 2010 two-time Olympic bronze medalist in short track speedskating. Celski will be linked with Folgers and Smucker’s Uncrustables.
• Kelly Clark: 2002 Olympic champion, 2006 Olympian,and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist in halfpipe snowboarding. Clark will partner with Folgers and Uncrustables.
• Nick Goepper: 2013 Winter X Games gold medalist in slopestyle freeskiing. Goepper will be partnering with Jif and hopes to represent TeamUSA in slopestyle, which will make its Olympic debut in Sochi.
• Gracie Gold: The 2013 U.S. figure skating silver medalist will partner with the Smucker’s brand.
• Lysacek: The 2010 Olympic figure skating champion will partner with Smucker’s. He is the most decorated U.S. male skater of the past decade.
• Julia Mancuso: The 2006 Olympic champion and two-time 2010 Olympic silver medalist in alpine skiing will partner with Jif. She is the most decorated U.S. female Olympic skier in history.
• Louie Vito: The 2010 Olympian and five-time Winter X Games medalist in halfpipe snowboarding will represent Uncrustables.
• Yamaguchi: The 1992 Olympic figure skating champion will be an Uncrustables spokesperson. Her Olympic victory has been followed by a career in professional figure skating, publishing, television and philanthropy. She has been inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty.