Octagon First Call


About First Call

Our team helps brands, their agencies and nonprofit organizations by assessing the business value of celebrities, negotiating smart partnerships and activating each program. We provide fast and accurate information and recommend talent based on many factors including their relevance, points of differentiation and cost. The results of our work are seen as television commercials, webisodes, publicity programs, YouTube posts, celebrity seeding, social media » Read More


2012 London Olympic Games: 100 Days Out

We’re 100 days out from the 2012 London Games and that means we’re edging toward full Olympic frenzy. In Times Square today, athletes will sign autographs from a USOC branded red double-decker bus with “Road to London” inscribed on the side. Additionally, the USOC announced a new campaign: #RaiseOurFlag – where $12 gets you a stitch in the Opening Ceremonies flag.
In the coming weeks, you can expect more and more Olympic athlete – brand deals to be announced. Below, we’ve compiled a social media guide, list of deals to date and links to visit to keep you updated on the #sportsbiz happenings.
 Handles: HERE we have compiled a list of 100+ global athletes, brands/sponsors and media members to you can stay up to date in one place. Here’s a sample of who made our list:
Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach)
Allyson Felix (@allysonfelix)
Andrea Kremer (@Andrea_Kremer)
BMW (@BMWGroup)
Bob Bowman (@Coach_Bowman)
Bryan Clay (@bryanclay)
Carl Lewis (@Carl_Lewis)
Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports)
Coca-Cola (@CocaCola)
Dan Hicks (@DanHicksNBC)
Dara Torres (@DaraTorres)
Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell)
Dominique Dawes (@dominiquedawes)
Janet Evans (@janetbevans)
Kerri Walsh (@kerrileewalsh)
Landon Donovan (@landondonovan)
McDonald’s (@McDonalds)
Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyUSAT)
Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps)
Natalie Coughlin (@NatalieCoughlin)
NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics)
Richard Sandomir (@RichSandomir)
Rulon Gardner (@RulonGardner)
Shawn Johnson (@ShawneyJ
Speedo (@Speedo_Global )
Sports Business Journal (@SBJSBD)
Sports Illustrated (@SInow)
Summer Sanders (@SummerSanders_)
Tripp Mickle (@trippmickle)
Tyson Gay (@TysonLGay)
Usain Bolt (@usainbolt)
Vicki Michaelis (@usat_vmichaelis)
Official:  #Olympics, #London2012, #Olympics2012, #RaiseOurFlag (USOC), #TeamUSA (USOC)
Sponsor:  #ThankYouMom (P&G)
Today the IOC debuted the Olympic Athlete Hub – where you can follow and interact with your favorite Olympic athletes.
-       Citi + US Swimmer Cullen Jones
-       Summer Sanders + Rethink Vericose Veins, Schwinn bicycles and Kellogg’s
-       Rebecca Soni + Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal
-       BMW Olympic team includes Ricky Berens, Matt Chrabot, Bryan Clay, Natalie Coughlin, Janet Evans, Clay Johnson and Mallory Weggemann
-       Gillette signed 24 athletes to represent them at the 2012 Olympic Games including US sprinter Tyson Gay, US swimmer Ryan Lochte, Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer and Russian swimmer Nikita Lobintsev 
-       VISA (Europe) + Usain Bolt
-       Omega, an official IOC sponsor, has tapped longtime endorsee Michael Phelps, Tyson Gay and Jenn Suhr to star in ad spots around the games
-       Dara Torres has partnered with IOC TOP sponsor McDonald’s as well as Kohl’s (alongside Mia Hamm and Lindsey Vonn) and Ben-Gay
-       Pantene + Natalie Coughlin, Jacqueline Carvalho (Brazilian volleyball player), Gisela Dulko (Argentinian tennis player), Wu Minxia (Chinese diver), Evgeniya Kanaeva (Russian gymnast). Commercials start running in June
-       Samsung signed David Beckham as their London 2012 Ambassador
-       Proctor & Gamble signed US gymnast Alicia Sarcramone to endorse their beauty product brands. Sacramone will also appear in the brand’s “Thank You, Mom” campaign. Additionally, Sacramone endorses VisaUnder Armour and Gatorade. P&G has also tapped legendary on-screen mom Florence Henderson as a spokesperson for their “Thank You, Mom” campaign
-       Coca Cola announced its “eight-pack” of Olympians last year including Shawn Johnson, John Isner, Jessica Long and Alex Morgan
-       Hope Solo + Seiko watches 
April 18, 2012 | Comments: 0

The Super Bowl Weather Creating Challenges on the Road to Dallas

With the entire nation focused on a blizzard and the inability to get to Dallas for the Super Bowl, we thought it made sense to look back at America's favorite winter marketing & endorsement deals. Make sure to comment to let us know your favorites.

Most memorable was Miami Dolphin's Dan Marino and his famous 1987 partnership with Isotoner Gloves. The deal gave the brand a certain edge as one of the country's top quarterbacks whose livelihood depended on his healthy hands chose Isotoner (we'll overlook the fact that Marino was basking in the Miami sun). People still talk about the ad and partnership today (almost 25 years later).

More than 30 years ago, Olympic alpine ski racer and actress, Suzy Chaffe, joined the Chapstick team for some sweltering commercials where she declared herself as "Suzy Chapstick." Following her footsteps is skier Picabo Street who also aligned with the Chapstick brand during her Olympic career for ski/lip health commercials.

The weather made global news during the 2010 Ryder Cup (see CNBC's Sports Business Reporter, Darren Rovell's report) when rain gear gained as much buzz as the game play. The twelve American golfers in Sun Mountain brand rain gear arrived on the 18th green soaked from the poor weather and the PGA ended up buying the team all new gear from the Celtic Manor merchandise tent at the event. The European Ryder Cup team on the other hand finished their rounds dry, wryly smiling, and equipped in Proquip.

Phil Mickelson beaten down by rain during the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament at the Celtic Manor golf course in Newport, Wales

Phil Mickelson beaten down by rain during the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament at the Celtic Manor golf course in Newport, Wales

Always in the need for weather resistant outfitting, The Weather Channel meteorologists are equipped in L.L. Bean outerwear. This partnership gives L.L. Bean a respectful tone as these weather experts are seen daily trusting the brand to keep them dry and warm.

One of America's most trusted and recognized weather forecasters, NBC's Al Roker partnered with Weatherproof to create a line of jackets, coats, footwear, and weather accessories in 2002. Roker remains a relevant personality today as showcased by his 65,000 twitter followers.

Indy driver and iconic Go Daddy Girl, Danica Patrick named Peak Antifreeze as her official safeguard against the harsh winter. This partnership has spanned 5 years and features Patrick in a number of commercials and an online fan page on the Peak Racing site.

And just this week during the X Games, BF Goodrich tires announced a partnership with Olympic Gold Medalist and snowboarding legend Shaun White. Check out the BF Goodrich website as White takes his "extreme" to the racetrack in high-intensity videos.

February 1, 2011 | Comments: 0

First Call in the News

Octagon First Call's comments and expert opinions have been featured in stories on a variety of recent sports and entertainment stories.  Take a look at some of the most recent features below.

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February 26, 2010 | Comments: 0

Luge Tragedy Will Not Affect Olympics Advertising

The death of Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili during Friday's practice rounds for the luge was certainly unexpected and tragic.  Brian Steinberg from AdAge asked me for thoughts on the accident's effect on advertising (below).  And take a look at the entire article at AdAge.

While the death represents "a tragedy beyond words," said David Schwab, VP-managing director of Octagon First Call, a celebrity-marketing consultant owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., "it will not affect advertising, as the media buys have already been purchased. Viewership will increase because NBC and media outlets will call out air times and controversy and tragedy intrigue the public."

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February 15, 2010 | Comments: 0

Snow Day Tips for Marketers

For most people snow days are a nuisance, but for some marketers/brands they can represent a great opportunity to connect with a captive audience. Consumers are stuck indoors and are looking for ways to pass the time. Where do you think they'll turn? You guessed it, social media and television. Here are some brands who stand to benefit from the "Snowverkill"...

Winter Olympics - For those marketers activating programs in and around this year's Winter Games today's blizzard could not have come at a better time. Over a foot of snow falling in the northeast (and parts of the mid-west), there will be millions of consumers, in some of the country's largest media markets, with snow and winter activities on the brain. With that many people stuck inside brands with Winter Olympics ties (AT&T, Coca-Cola, Under Armour, Audi, etc.) should be pushing their programs on Twitter and Facebook, driving consumers to their websites and raising awareness about their Winter Olympics programs.

Nickelodeon and Disney - On snow days kids typically want to go sledding, have snowball fights and build snow men, but Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel could entice kids to stay inside with a special "Snow Day" programming block that consists of their most popular shows and movies. Imagine a six-hour High School Musical marathon starting at 10 am and ending at 4 pm. Disney Channel would have a great mid-day ratings. You mean to tell us that a "Nickelodeon Snow Day Special" made up of SpongeBob, iCarly, Drake and Josh, and True Jackson, VP wouldn't give the channel a mid-day ratings boost?

Super Bowl Campaigns - Immediately following the Super Bowl all of the talk centers on the game and on the commercials, but by Wednesday things have died down. "Snowpocalypse" changes that this year, Super Bowl marketers have a chance to extend the buzz their programs and commercials created during Super Bowl Week and the Big Game itself. So those brands who have solid social media programs supporting their Super Bowl efforts (check out our list of the best Super Bowl social media programs), are in prime position to capitalize on the millions of people sitting at home, messing around on their computers, looking for something to catch their attention. Brands should be pushing links that provide exclusive behind-the-scenes and making-of content from their Super Bowl commercials and programs. If a brand launched a Super Bowl-related Facebook app or announced a contest/giveaway they should be re-launching them on a day like today (really that goes for any and all brands who have a significant social media program underway).

There are plenty of ways to make snow days work to your advantage and if you've got any ideas of your own share them with us on our Facebook page.

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February 10, 2010 | Comments: 0

100 Days and Counting…2010 Vancouver Olympics

We're 100 days out from the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver where major brands will capitalize on the Olympians' extreme popularity with the public and the media. We've compiled a list of the most marketable current and former Olympians.


  • Scott Hamilton: The men's figure skater won four consecutive US Championships, four consecutive World Championships and the 1984 Olympic Games. He recently participated in the second season of The Celebrity Apprentice and wrote the book, The Great Eight, which shared the secrets to his happiness and how he overcame numerous challenges and disappointments throughout his life.  Expect to see his face during the Games as he'll be commentating for NBC in Vancouver. 
  • Kristi Yamaguchi: The 1992 Women's Figure Skating Olympic Champion continues to be one of the most marketable US Winter Olympians.  She appeals to a wide audience including moms, especially after winning the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars (a show known for creating breathing life into stars' marketability). She has currently endorses Kellogg's and OPI nailpolish.
  • Brian Boitano: The three time Olympian and 1988 Men's Figure Skating Champion has reemerged in the media spotlight with his new Food Network show, What Would Brian Boitano Make?  which will keep him relevant (and busy) during the Games. 
  • Michelle Kwan: She has won nine US Championships, five World Championships and two Olympic medals to make her the most decorated figure skater in US history. She serves as a public diplomacy ambassador and has worldwide recognition and respect. 
  • Picabo Street: The alpine ski racer won the Gold and Silver medals at the 1998 and 1994 Winter Games.  She enjoyed successful partnerships with Chapstick and Mountain Dew in the past and we anticipate seeing more of her around the 2010 Games. 
  • Bonnie Blair: The speedskater is considered one of the top female skaters of her time, with five gold medals and one bronze medal.  With her well-known name and Olympic accomplishments, she'll be extra media-friendly in and around the 2010 Games.



  • Shaun White: The famous snowboarder won the gold in the Men's Halfpipe at the 2006 Olympics, nine Winter X Games gold medals and two Winter Dew Games gold medals.  He is one of the most visible Winter Olympians and has a strong following with a young demographic-- a sweet spot for many brands.  He has an established fan base from his successful skateboarding career as well.  He currently enjoys strong partnerships with RedBull, Oakley, Wii and Target. 
  • Apolo Ohno: The short track speed skater is a five time Olympic medalist and season five champion of Dancing with the Stars (where he impressed large audiences with his dancing skills and fun personality). This Olympic season, he will be featured in Vicks cold medicine advertising alongside snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis.  He (and other other members of Team USA) will also be featured  in point-of-sale advertising and other Coke marketing materials around the Vancouver Games. 
  • Gretchen Bleiler: The silver medalist halfpipe snowboarder (2006 Turin Games) currently serves as a brand ambassador for Oakley and K2 Snowboarding.  She will also be featured in Coca-Cola's advertising and marketing materials around the 2010 Games.
  • Evan Lysacek: Like Ohno and Bleiler, he will be featured in Coke's Olympic marketing and advertising materials.  The 2009 World Champion figure skater has also signed an endorsement deal with Ralph Lauren, the official outfitter of Team USA at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.  If he wins the gold as expected, we wouldn't be surprised to see him ink another deal after the Games.
  • Louie Vito: The professional snowboarder may be a bit risky for brands, but could also deliver great results during this year's Winter Games.  The former Dancing with the Stars contestant already has increased his fan base through his particpation on the show and has a solid fan base from his career thus far.  We won't be surprised to see him emerge as a fan favorite if he makes the Olympic team.
  • Rachel Flatt: The seventeen year old figure skater is favored to win this year's gold medal in the most watched sport of the Winter Games.  The rising star has the most to gain of the group, but could potentially become America's next sweetheart-making her a steal for brands who partner with her early. 

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November 4, 2009 | Comments: 0

First Call in the Media

Recently, First Call has been called on to provide expert insight into the world of sports and entertainment. In AdAge, you can find First Call's Managing Director's (David Schwab) thoughts on the potential advantages of having Chicago host the 2016 Olympic Games.  As he says, time zones can have a large affect on audience metrics.  If Chicago wins the bid, expect increased audience excitement due to live coverage of events.

Schwab can also be found in the Sports Business Journal  commenting on the benefits of using Facebook as a communication and marketing tool in the industry. He and other industry professionals share what they have learned from using the popular social networking platform.

Finally, Schwab is featured in PR Week's PR Toolbox. With the tough economic times, everyone is looking to get the most bang for their buck. Schwab gives tips and tricks to help companies ensure that they use celebrities effectively in campaigns.

November 25, 2008 | Comments: 0

A Publicist's Dream: Whoopi Holds up Rosetta Stone Product During Michael Phelps Interview

14-time Olympic Gold Medalist (and 8x winner in Beijing) Michael Phelps appeared just moments ago on ABC's The View promoting his partnership with the language company, Rosetta Stone. We found a few things compelling about the interview.

First of all, how Phelps and his team have been able to selectively agree to national media opportunities (and spread them out) so that each of his sponsors are able to activate their partnerships and number two (and more importantly), how willing Whoopi was to talk about Rosetta Stone.

Publicists are always looking for national shows in which corporate plugs are OK. And this one, was a real win for Rosetta Stone and their PR agency. Whoopi held up the product, asked Michael about it and then held it up again at the end of the interview. Barbara Walters then announced that everyone in the audience was receiving a few Rosetta Stone set of CD's too (and they showed the product again).

It's tough enough to organically get a product plug in, so when you can do it and have it shown on TV three different times during the interview, let's just say, it's pretty special.

Well done Rosetta Stone publicists.


October 30, 2008 | COMMENTS: 1

Classy Way to End the Olympics

I feel like we have been writing on Michael Phelps and the Olympics for a month but yesterday's "surprise" announcement is a perfect way to conclude our coverage of the Olympics. The Olympian icon appeared on NBC's Today Show where Speedo presented him his $1,000,000 bonus check for winning eight gold medals (actually the bonus was for winning seven).

He, in turn, announced that the money was being used to create the Michael Phelps Foundation, a Non-Profit Corporation organized pursuant to the District of Columbia Non-Profit Corporation Act. The Foundation's purpose is to operate exclusively for charitable educational, and scientific purposes; and to promote healthy, active lives, especially for children, primarily by expanding opportunities for participation in the sport of swimming, both nationally and internationally.

A very classy way to end the Olympics! (PS--Check out his Facebook page -- more than 1.5mm fans -- incredible!!)

Now back to writing about Hollywood, music, chefs, designers, other athletes and more.

Stay tuned.

September 3, 2008 | Comments: 0

Olympics Recap

As the 2008 Olympic Games come to a close, Americans will walk away with many fond memories. From the Opening to the Closing Ceremonies, the Beijing Games provided excitement, entertainment and unthinkable accomplishments. Sponsors and non-sponsors alike capitalized on the many remarkable and unforgettable feats to capture the attention of millions of fans— through several ads seen throughout USA Today.


Vitamin Water (which Coca Cola purchased in 2007) ran a full page ad congratulating Kobe, LeBron, Dwight, Deron and Chris on winning the gold medal in men’s basketball. The five members of the men's Olympic basketball team were featured in a campfire inspired ad campaign for the brand. Vitamin Water also released several viral videos featuring the stars behind the scenes footage carefully zooming in on them sipping their product.


Not to be outdone, Nike also ran a full page ad for the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team. The ad draws on the excitement and sheer exuberance of the team immediately following the overtime victory for the gold medal. The ad connects Nike with the selflessness and teamwork that the team illustrated.


Of course, a number of ads and articles ran congratulating the Olympic icon Michael Phelps on his record-breaking eight gold medals. Hilton, a sponsor of Phelps, USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Team, congratulates Phelps on achieving his dreams and encourages others to pursue theirs at hilton.com. The creative full page ad run by ESPN shrewdly alluded to Phelps without mentioning his name or any Olympic imagery (because of Rule 45). The underwater photo and clever language clearly implies Phelps’s achievements without directly stating his name. There’s also a blurb about Phelps’s Sports Illustrated cover-turned-poster. Recognizing the commercial potential of the historic cover image, a poster of the clean SI cover of Phelps is being sold at FineArtLimited.com. Even the superstar’s mom, Debbie, has received continued coverage with her shoot for a Johnson’s baby commercial and interviews including Good Morning America.


While the 2008 Olympics are technically over, some of the most memorable moments and heroes of the Games will continue to leave lasting impressions in the minds of Americans. Smart brands will creatively use these people to take advantage of the feel good memories that they evoke.

August 25, 2008 | Comments: 0