Swimmer Joseph Schooling is the type of ambassador brands simply dream about

Schooling’s charisma – a mixture of American-accented English, an endearing success story and a strong sense of filial piety are the factors that make him a uniquely marketable Asian sports personality – says ShuQi Liu of Q Communications

Some might say that Joseph Schooling is the epitome of a crazy rich Asian. But all joking aside, as a celebrity ambassador for Hugo Boss, Nestle, Tag Heuer and more brands besides the Singaporean Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer is doing well outside of the pool too.

Coming to prominence following his 100m butterfly gold medal win at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the six-foot Asian sportsman standouts from his peers – quite literally. He was born in 1995 so sponsors have much to gain from working with a star, who is only 23 and still has his best years ahead.

Who can forget the slow motion replays of his sensational win in the water, beating the legendary Michael Phelps in 2016? That moment of euphoria, that pride for Singapore and the joy on his dimpled face is priceless inspiration for many.

So for sure the brands that have already associated themselves with Schooling earn extra goodwill from consumers here for supporting a promising athlete at the very beginning of his journey. They are buying into his passion, tenacity and victory. For a commercial partner, that is simply gold dust.

Flick open your social media threads and aspirational images of Schooling rubbing shoulders with Hollywood stars, while looking dapper in tailored threads, are omnipresent. And of course they generate a healthy dose of likes and comments – meaning his ardent followers from around the world are engaged with not just the man himself, but also the brands he endorses.

In fact, Schooling’s affinity with social media savvy millennials allow brands to leverage his networks in a fairly authentic way. Through this strong fanbase, everything from high fashion clothes and luxury watches to healthy food and nutritious drinks can be targeted at this new generation of young people.

Naysayers will counter that brand sponsorships might distract Schooling from the primary goal of professional swimming success. And certainly balancing photoshoots and event appearances with an arduous training regime is no easy task.

And yet, an athlete can definitely make our world a much better place beyond winning medals and chasing their sporting passion. Years of hard work and dedication towards swimming have made Schooling an exceptional character. He is a great role model and why shouldn’t he benefit financially out of this, while allowing the right products to be part of his story?

Whatever happens from now on in, it is evident that Schooling has achieved much in the world of marketing too through his celebrity endorsements. From a young age, the once gawky boy dared to dream. He was laser-focused on becoming a professional swimmer. His parents, Colin and May Schooling, are the quintessential Asian parents – stoic, protective and very supportive.

Schooling’s charisma – a mixture of American-accented English, an endearing success story and a strong sense of filial piety are the factors that make him a unique Asian personality. One that’s easily relatable and most importantly, very marketable.

Even if Schooling stops winning, historical trends show that Singaporean swimmers have a bright future ahead of them. Russell Ong, Joel Tan, Leslie Kwok and Joscelin Yeo are just a few of Schooling’s predecessors who also struck gold with brand sponsorships.

With endorsements from Tumi, Dyson, Macallan, Montblanc, Lexus, JBL and many more, it is evident that the brand obsession with swimming stars continues outside of the competition pool no matter what.

If not, there’s always a job in the media waiting – or even politics. We know that some ex-swimmers have become television show hosts, while others have even been nominated as members of the Singapore Parliament.

But let’s get is straight, Schooling worked hard. He was no overnight success and that’s why he inspires people and excited brands. Long may it continue, I know I’m a fan and I’m not alone.

Brands dream of someone like Schooling coming along, says ShuQi Liu

ShuQi Liu is director of the Singapore-based public relations agency Q Communications


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