The latest Olympic star: Kinesio tape

Katrin Holtwick of Germany prepares to serve during the women's beach volleyball match between Germany and Czech Republic. Olympic athletes have helped increase sales of colorful therapeutic tape known as kinesio tape.

Jeremy Hobson: The United States is taking home 104 Olympic medals -- that's the most of any country. China is second with 87. But there's one winner from the Olympics without any medals. It's something called Kinesio tape -- basically pink and blue strips that athletes put on their bodies to help muscles heal and perform better.

Kinesio tape wasn't an official Olympic sponsor, but as Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports, it's getting a big marketing boost anyway.


Mariecella Devine: Half, down, up, down.

Mitchell Hartman: Exercise trainer Mariecella Devine packs her Portland dance studio for Cardio Boot Camp. She’s wiry and rock-hard, not a pulled hamstring in sight. But seeing all those Olympic athletes crisscrossed with kinesio tape?

Devine: Their bodies are these instruments that are fine-tuned, so yeah, I would definitely try it.

Kenneth Shropshire: I think it’s an interesting version of ambush marketing.

Sports lawyer Kenneth Shropshire says ‘ambush,’ because only official sponsors can plaster their logos on the Olympians. But kinesio tape? No brand name -- so no foul. Just those unmistakable colored strips patterned across tight abs and glutes.

Shropshire: Athletes have gone beyond ‘this is to help muscle strain or some other injury,’ to ‘huh, this looks pretty cool, let me put it on and further express myself.’

Making the athletes a sort of straining, leaping billboard for the company, which says sales are up 15-fold since the Olympics began. 

Hartman: OK, she’s got me doing this lunge-jump thing, my right knee really hurts, so maybe I’ll use some kinesio tape, I don’t know.

Reporting from cardio boot camp, I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace. Oh man...

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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