Lochte Gets a Clean Start: Post-Rio Crisis Management

Pretty much everyone has heard about decorated olympian Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates’ wild night in Rio during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. After a night out with teammates Lochte told the story of being held up at gunpoint at a gas station in Rio. Over a short period of time it came out that the swimmers were not actually held up and robbed at gunpoint, but there was a misunderstanding. The drunken swimmers were told by gas station clerks that they had to pay for the damages they caused to a bathroom before going on with their night.

The platinum blonde swimmer was caught in an exaggeration, and his actions that night caused some serious damage to his professional image. The 12 time olympic medalist lost sponsorships with Speedo, Ralph Lauren, Air Weave, and Gentle Hair Removal. On top of sponsorship losses, Lochte was banned from international and domestic competition for 10 months, until June 30, 2017.

After a serious blow to his reputation, Lochte had – and still does have – a lot of crisis management and image reparation to take care of. He definitely understands this. Since the incident Lochte has been very active on social media. His twitter and Instagram accounts have had a slight shift in content. Lochte has gone from posting mostly about his professional endeavors and training to promoting his personal life as well.

Current social media for Lochte is not about what he has done, but rather about the work that he is putting in to be successful when it is time to compete again. Training videos along side pictures of family and dogs create the image that Lochte needs to show the world. He isn’t a wild partying college student, he’s got work to do and serious priorities.

One big step for Lochte’s image reparation is a bit of rebranding. Shortly before the 2016 Rio Olympics, Lochte revealed his new bleach blonde locks. The hair for him was associated with his actions during his time in Rio. It was so recognizable on footage from the night of the incident that it had some negative connotations.

After switching back to his natural more tame brown hair, Lochte partnered with Power Bar in a great clean start commercial.

The Clean Start campaign is about giving 17 athletes who did not finish the NYC Marathon a second chance. Giving them a clean start. Lochte is the perfect spokesperson for this campaign. He throws out a blonde wig, his trademark look during his time in Rio, and vows to have a clean start, saying that he will recommit himself to pool sports.

All in all, Lochte has done a great job of repairing his image so far. He owned up to his actions and is working toward being a better public figure. While there still is some work to do, his social media presence and Clean Start campaign with PowerBar is going to help tremendously.


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