SBD/Issue 136/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Going Formal: Polo To Outfit U.S. Olympians For Beijing Games

Polo Ralph Lauren has agreed to a deal with the USOC to outfit the U.S. Olympians for the opening and closing ceremonies of this summer's Beijing Olympic Games, according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal stipulates that the U.S. Olympic team will wear "formal attire, probably in the form of coats and ties for men and skirts or dresses for women, for the first time in more than three decades during the opening and closing ceremonies of an international sporting event." Mickle notes the partnership "falls in line with the USOC's effort to improve its international relations within the Olympic movement by following the example of other countries that wear formal attire." Terms of the agreement, expected to be announced officially next week, were not available, but sources said the deal covers only this summer's Games (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/7 issue). Polo said that the deal will cost "less than $10[M]." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kang & Dodes report Polo will replace Roots as the official outfitter of the U.S. team. Roots had outfitted the U.S. team for the past three Olympics and was to "continue through 2008.'' However, the two sides in January parted ways "after Roots presented the USOC with designs the committee deemed too informal." Polo this summer will launch an ad campaign around the partnership, and while Polo "has outfitted Olympians in the past, ... it has never designed outfits for the entire team." The deal also includes September's Beijing Paralympic Games. Polo is "negotiating with several U.S. department stores" to carry the company's new Olympics-branded clothing, and Polo is "working with officials to potentially set up shops in Beijing." Sources said that about 10% of sales of the new Olympic products "will go to the USOC as royalty payments" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/7).

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