Of course, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny never planned to have their first public kiss while sitting directly behind the greatest marketer in sport, David Beckham. But that's what happened. And as a result, that first photographed snog had all the publicity impact of the perfect product launch. The potential for a cycling Posh and Becks was born.
The former England football captain has been even more adept at building "Brand Beckham" than he has been at taking free kicks. Becks always tries to be first to congratulate a goal scoring teammate, so that he appears in television pictures and back-page photographs with his winning smile. But for once he seemed unaware he was in shot as Laura and Jason locked lips behind him at the beach volleyball final.
Should they have wanted any advice on how to develop the commercial potential of their relationship, they would have done well to take his business card. David and Victoria have put the family name to all kinds of products, from perfumes and body lotions to jeans. But whether Britain's Olympic golden couple would have the same marketing muscle is a moot point.
Fellow cyclist Bradley Wiggins has already shown that he is a brand in his own right. He has amassed more than half a million followers on Twitter, where he is able to support causes ranging from Fred Perry clothing to the Joining Jack muscular dystrophy charity. Max Clifford has estimated Wiggins' earning potential at £20m over five years because of his "squeaky clean image".
As a couple, Trott and Kenny offer an added dimension to potential sponsors who can weave a narrative story around their romance on wheels. And unlike many celebrity couples, such as the Beckhams or Jamie and Louise Redknapp, Trott and Kenny are both successful participants in the same sport.
"It's only early days but as long as it's not done to keep the paparazzi happy and there is genuine depth to the relationship I think this is something new and that's why we are seeing such a reaction," said Steve Martin, chief executive of M&C Saatchi Sport.
Tim Ashton, creative director of Antidote, a specialist branding company that has worked closely this year with both the Team Sky cycling project and Team GB in the Olympics, said that the extent of their appeal will be linked to whether the current public passion for cycling extends beyond London 2012.
"The long tail effect after the Olympics is what people are talking about. Track cycling tends to be an Olympic-only sport for most people," he said. The attendances at the Manchester velodrome for the Revolution track races hardly compare to those that Becks was used to at Old Trafford. Both riders already have agents. They will also have seen how colleague Victoria Pendleton has worked with the retailer Halfords to develop a range of everyday bikes for women. "Do they have a his and hers bike?" asked Mr Ashton.
The intense training schedule of leading cyclists inhibits opportunities for doing commercial work. A further problem is the small pool of hard-core racing cyclists, of whom there are only around 50,000. So Trott and Kenny would need to widen their appeal beyond their sport. "They could be seen to be encouraging cycling as a recreational thing, or as a cheap way of commuting – or as a way of falling in love," said Mr Ashton.
- More about:
- Europa League