For the millions of millennial’s who are marveling at the grace and artistry of the figure skaters performing at the Olympic Games in Sochi, the name Sonja Henie probably draws a blank look.
As speculation begins as to who will get the big payday endorsement deal from their Olympic victory, a nod of recognition must go to world-class figure skater and celebrity branding pioneer Sonja Henie.
Affectionately know as “The Ice Queen of Norway” she was also known as “Little Miss Moneybags.”
With great business savvy, Sonja took the nascent art of celebrity branding to unheard of heights.
An unrivaled athlete of the 1930’s and ‘40s, Norwegian born Sonja Henie was the worlds first great figure skater and media superstar. Not only did she win 3 consecutive Olympic Gold medals starting in 1928 at age 15 she also won 10 back to back world championships, a record that still stands today.
No other figure skater had captivated the public like the beautiful teenage Sonja.
With an instinct for self promotion that rivaled her skating skills, she turned those 3 Olympic Gold medals into a pot of gold.
First off she took those gold medals and cashed them in for a lucrative Hollywood career inking a deal with Twentieth Century Fox. Gliding effortlessly, her crossover to film was as seamless as the way she handled curves on the ice.
While making blockbuster films she also went on tour appearing in ice shows called “Hollywood Ice Revue.” Crisscrossing the country the shows were wildly successful, not only increasing the popularity of her movies but making figure skating popular too.
In this age of unabashed celebrity branding, the “Ice Queen of Norway” would put Kim Kardashian to shame.
Sonja Henie’s lucrative endorsements contracts and multiple deals to market skates, clothing, jewelry, dolls, toys and other merchandise all branded with her name, made her one of the wealthiest women in the world at the time.
Sonja Henie Says:
Her appearance in a 1944 ad for Royal Crown Cola only confirmed how big a star Sonja Henie was.
In the 1940’s a veritable who’s who in Hollywood from Betty Grable to Joan Crawford appeared in the popular cola advertisements.
It was a match made in promotion heaven. RC Cola like Sonja Henie herself, understood the power of celebrity endorsements
Promoting her latest film “It’s a Pleasure,” it was apparently a pleasure to drink RC Cola. “Pert and Pretty Sonja Henie always asks for RC when she calls for a drink at the rink.”
Because the ad appeared during WWII, red, white and true blue Sonja invited the reader to join her in patriotically buying an extra War Bond that month.
Apparently her controversial “Heil Hitler” salute to the Führer that raised eyebrows at the 1936 Olympics in Germany seems to have been long forgotten.
No surprise, we learn that RC was her taste-test winner! “Sunny Sonja took the famous taste test recently. She tried the leading colas in a blind taste test- picked Royal Crown Cola as best tasting”
Best endorsement deal too!
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