Jessica Ennis, British gold medal hopeful for the Olympic heptathlon, has today signed a record sponsorship deal for so-called ‘snatch ads’.
Agent Alison Sanders explained that the ads are displayed on the wearer’s shorts between the legs. ‘They got their name from the way you only snatch a glimpse of the ad as the athlete performs her event,’ said Sanders. ‘This has the effect of ensuring the message sinks long and deep into the viewer’s mind. In terms of dollars per square inch of display space, nothing else comes close.
‘The 100 meters high hurdles gets the very best out of this form of advertising. First, when the event is run, viewers see ten brief flashes as the hurdles are cleared over the course of about 13 seconds. Then a longer glimpse is possible during the slow-motion rerun, followed by close-ups for closer inspection next day in the newspapers. In effect, it goes from the subliminal to the sublime.’
Other events such as the high jump, using the display position pioneered by 1960s ad-man ‘Dick’ Fosbury, provide a slightly more lingering glance but actually attract slightly lower fees. However, Eurotunnel claims this event offers best value for money and has increased traffic considerably.
This form of advertising was brought to prominence by Sanders after her husband started taking an interest in the Latin American routines on Strictly Come Dancing. ‘It was only when I found that he had absolutely no recollection of incorrect arm movements and facial expressions that I realised he was only concentrating in one very small area.’
Ennis is understood to have more than one sponsor but the highest price has been paid by O2 to carry their logo in the hurdles. The heptathlon understandably provides the greatest variety of exposure but some other events have attracted surprisingly little interest.
‘With events like beach volleyball you start to get the overkill effect,’ says Sanders. ‘Once you get more than an eyeful the ‘snatch’ effect is lost. It’s similar with the synchronised swimming, which really gets the ads in your face. Mind you, our girls did manage to land a deal with Ronnie Chan’s All You Can Eat Fish Buffet, and Chan say his net takings have gone through the roof.’