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Lance Armstrong's Commercial Legacy Tainted?

By Published on . 1

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the USADA, is pressing formal doping charges against Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour De France champion and founder of the Livestrong brand.

The charges come just a little over a year after the damning "60 Minutes" interview in which the athlete's former teammate Tyler Hamilton said that he had witnessed Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs while he was on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team, and months after the U.S. attorney's office shut down its two-year long investigation into allegations of Armstrong's use of performance enhancing drugs.

The USADA has targeted Armstrong, along with five others formerly associated with the USPS team, including three doctors and two officials, said CEO Travis T. Tygart in a statement. The organization only takes action in cases "supported by the evidence," he added.

Although the USADA can not press criminal charges, depending on the outcome, it could strip Armstrong of his seven Tour De France titles. Meanwhile, until charges are resolved, Armstrong has been banned from competing in triathalons, which he took on in 2011. Outside of his reputation, also potentially at risk is that of Armstrong's Livestrong brand, which has been the muse for landmark creative moves in this industry, including the Cannes Grand Prix winning Chalkbot effort, from 2009.

Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman addressed the current charges in a post on the foundation's blog: "Regardless of anything anyone says, Lance Armstrong has been one of the most tireless and effective cancer advocates in the world. His legacy as a cancer advocate and fundraiser is indisputable. . . In our eyes, Lance will always remain a champion. Nothing can shake our faith in him as a leader and trailblazer on behalf of cancer survivors. Our thoughts are with Lance and his family as they face what can only be a very frustrating and difficult time as a result of USADA's actions."

Historically, Armstrong has transcended controversy, with the help of some smart advertising from longtime Nike agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland. Here, we take a look back at some of Armstrong's most talked about commercial appearances--some which take on a new tinge, in light of the USADA charges.


Lance's Drug
Armstrong explains what he's on, in this confrontational Nike spot.

Livestrong Integrated Campaign
While the most celebrated and publicized aspect of Wieden + Kennedy, Portland's Livestrong campaign was another wonder on wheels named Chalkbot, arguably more genius was Lance Armstrong's decision to once again take part in the Tour de France in the name of the Livestrong Foundation. Cannes Lions Titanium Juror Rob Reilly, CCO Crispin, Porter + Bogusky noted during the awards press conference, "It's not just another TV spot. His coming back was a calculated move to start this campaign. To me, that's the most important part. Chalkbot is an incredible tool, but the decision to come back in the first place, as a marketing idea, is brilliant."


Voices of Support
The voices of cancer survivors are what keep Armstrong going in this spot directed by Anonymous Content's Andrew Douglas, also part of the Livestrong campaign.


Take That
Armstrong confronts the critics head on in this 2009 spot directed by Gorgeous' Frank Budgen.


Armstrong Feeds the Warrior
Armstrong takes a comedic turn with the help of director Christopher Guest, in this 2007 Livestrong spot.


Lance Beats It
This 2005 spot tapped news archives to show how far the athlete had come after his revelatory 1996 press conference.


Another Kind of Athlete
Armstrong becomes a different sort of sports star in this 2004 trading places spot, directed by Ulf Johannson.


Ready, Set. . .
This 2003 spot, "Before," directed by Park Pictures' Lance Acord, shows top athletes getting prepared for the game (doping not included).


Elephant-size Emergency
The athlete breathes life into a pachyderm in this Dante Ariola-directed fantasy.



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