Two years ago, most everyone knew Mr. O'Brien's first name-he was half of Reebok International's "Dan & Dave" marketing effort tied to the Summer Olympics.
Reebok's $20 million-plus ad campaign from Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., trumpeted a rivalry between the two U.S. decathlon competitors. The score, the ads promised, would be settled at the Summer Games.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Barcelona. Dan failed to make the U.S. Olympic team. Dave Johnson went on to win a bronze medal, but his achievement seemed anticlimatic given the Reebok hype.
Reebok and Chiat and reworked the campaign and walked away unscathed. But Mr. O'Brien wasn't re-signed after his contract expired in 1993, and he wasn't picked up by Nike and Foot Locker until this year, after he set a world record in the decathlon.
Both companies plan to use him in marketing efforts leading up to the 1996 Summer Olympics. Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., handles Nike, while Bates Manhattan is Foot Locker's agency.
"It was difficult to go on after not making the Olympics" in 1992, Mr. O'Brien said. "But it made me a tougher competitor and gave my life more direction."