SBD/Issue 219/Olympics

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  • Rogge Has "No Regrets" About Games, Calls Censorship Minor Issue

    Rogge Says He Has No Regrets
    On Beijing Hosting Olympics
    After a "rocky week" for organizers of the Beijing Games, IOC President Jacques Rogge followed a short meeting of the IOC's exec board Saturday by saying that he "had 'no regrets' about Beijing's Games, and heaped praise on the city's preparations," according to Geoffrey Fowler of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Ahead of Friday's Opening Ceremony, the IOC is "on the defensive about censorship, protests, pollution -- and even the choice of Beijing as a host city." Rogge said of Internet censorship issues in China, "I'm not going to make an apology for something that the IOC is not responsible for. We are not running the Internet in China, the Chinese authorities are running the Internet." IOC officials argued that the Games "have brought about a more open Internet than China had before -- but they also tried to downplay the issue." Rogge: "I don't think we have to fret about this issue because this is really a minor issue in the whole context of the Games" (, 8/3). In London, David Bond notes "concerns over pollution and a row over internet censorship by the Chinese authorities have left many questioning whether Beijing will deliver on the promises officials made when they were awarded the Games." But Rogge said, "If you open up the Olympic arena to settling scores and making political statements, this is the end of the spirit of the Games. Athletes will have absolutely every chance to express their views. But we ask them not to do that in the Olympic venues, especially not on the podium and in the Olympic village. If you start having people on the podium with T-shirts with regional causes and conflicts or religious ones or racial ones, we can't allow that." Rogge added that he is "nevertheless 'optimistic' that the Chinese would fulfill their pledge on media freedom." Rogge: "If we are advised that there are aspects of the media law that are not respected we'll make representations to the organisers and the Chinese government" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/4).

    INTERNET ACCESS STILL AN ISSUE: IOC Dir of Communications Giselle Davies said that the IOC is "continuing to encourage the hosts to move in the right direction to provide the widest internet access possible." But AROUND THE RINGS' Mark Bisson noted some reporters are "interpreting the IOC instruction as a climbdown on the issue." BOCOG "has not responded to an IOC request to improve the situation and provide unfettered internet access" (, 8/2). In Manchester, Tania Branigan reports some Internet sites were "still off-limits last night." While the Amnesty Int'l main Web site could be accessed, its dedicated site "could not be reached." Meanwhile, the headline above a Yahoo picture gallery of musicians, acrobats and other entertainers read, "Tiananmen Square Massacre Remembered." Yahoo blamed an "automated gallery feature" for the headline, which remained on display for "at least 24 hours." The headline was "even visible from Beijing itself, presumably thanks in part to the government's relaxation of internet censorship this week" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 8/4). NBC News sources in Beijing said that they "have a way of getting around" the censorship. NBC News is working out of the Beijing Int'l Convention Center rather than the Main Press Center or the Int'l Broadcast Center, and so far NBC personnel "have not encountered any problems" (, 7/31). Newsweek Beijing Bureau Chief Melinda Liu: "Most of us who live here use Internet tools, like proxy servers or VPNs, which actually allow you to more or less get around this interference. We’re not affected that much, and we may not be even aware of what’s going on day-by-day in the sort of naked Internet.” Liu added, “If your choice is bad PR versus total control, they still want total control. This is a government of control freaks … The only reason they backed down a bit on this Internet issue is because it became such a bruising controversy” ("Reliable Sources," CNN, 8/3). 

    FACE OF A NATION: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Blumenstein, Batson & Fowler noted China President Hu Jintao Friday held his "first news conference ever with foreign journalists." Hu appeared "stiff but confident" and said that he "hoped the Olympic Games would leave an enduring legacy for China, and help convince the world that its most populated country is committed to a peaceful rise to prosperity." But "just as the moves toward openness signaled progress, they also demonstrated China's penchant for control." While reporters from the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AFP and NBC News were invited to attend, "many foreign journalists weren't" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/2). 

    Quality Of Beijing's Air Has Been
    Hot Topic Leading Up To Games
    CLASHING OVER COVERAGE: In DC, Maureen Fan reported "much to the dismay of organizers, the thousands of credentialed journalists who have begun pouring into [Beijing] are not impressed." Instead of "writing about pandas or Olympic food, Western journalists are mostly covering stories that the Chinese government would rather they not -- the city's chronic pollution, for instance -- and complaining about a lack of access to Internet sites and the famed Tiananmen Square." Chinese authorities had told the IOC that reporters "would be allowed to cover the Games as they would any other Olympics," but media advocates said that, "so far, that has not been the case." Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Sports Dir John Barton: "They gave pledges that we would be able to report without restrictions, that we would be able to travel anywhere in China and uplink anywhere in China -- the same conditions as had applied in previous Olympic Games, and patently that is not happening." TV crews from South America and Germany have "complained publicly about being harassed and followed by plainclothes police or about public security police who have cut off live shots even though the reporters had permission to film" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/3). In Toronto, Rosie DiManno wrote there is "escalating mistrust between a defensive Beijing and a snappish international media, a far different feeling from that hot summer night seven years past, when hundreds of thousands poured into the capital's streets to celebrate their selection as Olympic host" (TORONTO STAR, 8/2). However, AROUND THE RINGS' Ed Hula wrote, "On the plus side, journalists have been free to report on the internet controversy and other stories possibly unfavorable to China -- so far without censorship. ... Another sign of change: CNN and BBC have escaped blackouts by censors when reports critical of China are airing." Meanwhile, Beijing has been transformed into "what would appear to be the most stunningly prepared Olympic city in memory," and the venues "are a dream" (, 8/2).

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  • Did IOC Make The Correct Call In Awarding Games To Beijing?

    The question looming as China prepares for Friday’s Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Games is whether the IOC “made the right bet or took too lightly the possibility that protests or unforeseen events could divide rather than unite the nations whose athletes are gathering in Beijing,” according to Jere Longman of the N.Y. TIMES. The IOC “faces criticism -- from without and within -- for relying too much on chance and not enough on leverage in trying to hold Chinese leaders to their amorphous statements about change.” IOC President Jacques Rogge “has given wildly divergent responses to the human rights issue, saying that he was engaging in ‘silent diplomacy,’ before switching tactics under pressure and publicly reminding the Chinese authorities that they pledged to use the Olympics ‘to advance the social agenda of China, including human rights.’” Rogge has been “ill at ease in defining the IOC as both a political lobby and a sports organization.” Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said that the organization “did not sufficiently use its influence in setting markers for the Chinese to achieve on some issues, especially press freedoms during the Games.” Pound: “We probably should have said, 'Here are some minimum things we do need.'” However, Pound said awarding the Olympics to Beijing was a “risk worth taking. The Games will be well delivered. You hope good will come from it. I don’t think any closed country that has hosted the Olympic Games has been the same thereafter. It can’t be” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/3).

    China Using Bird's Nest As Focal Point
    In Country's Olympic Coming Out Party
    COMING OUT PARTY: In DC, Thomas Boswell wrote the Olympics will be “remembered as a worldwide multi-week debate on the historic experiment that evolved by accident [in China] over the past 25 years.” There will be “two entirely different Olympics -- one about sport, splendor and profit; the other about China’s impact on 21st-century politics and economics. The stakes are that high” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/3). N.Y. TIMES' PLAY magazine’s Tom Scocca writes the Olympics are “meant to mark Beijing’s transformation from a grim, dusty, totalitarian capital to a glittering international destination.” The “maximalist preparations -- the most avant-garde stadium ever! The biggest volunteer corps! The most numerous cartoon mascots! -- are part of an even grander makeover of the entire city, as a symbol of a nation transformed into a center of prosperity and influence in the new century” (PLAY, 8/ ’08 issue). In K.C., Mechelle Voepel wrote from the “perspective of size, cultural differences, political issues and media presence, this will be an Olympics measured on a scale like no other” (K.C. STAR, 8/2). In N.Y., George Vecsey writes China “sought these Games as a major step in its coming-out party, and now China will be tested in front of the world -- no retreating behind walls, no slogans, no long marches. China is here to stay” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4).

    CENTER STAGE: A FINANCIAL TIMES editorial states, “Any mishap that points to a wider flaw in the Chinese system -- pollution over Beijing, heavy-handed policing -- will be highlighted remorselessly by the world’s media.” The Olympics “might have been designed to showcase some of the most impressive aspects of today’s China -- modernity, wealth, achievement. But the games are also an event that could bring out the worst in China: paranoia, nationalism, control-freakery” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/4). In Detroit, Tom Watkins writes, “It seems likely that there will be some level of disruption to the games by people who want to call attention to China’s record on such issues as human rights, Tibet, Darfur, the environment, unfair trade practices and treatment of the Fulan Gong.” While the Olympics “should be devoid of politics, they never have been. Yet the ideal of bringing the world together on peaceful terms has never been more important” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/4).

    BROKEN PROMISES: A WASHINGTON POST editorial is written under the header, “The Security Olympics. China Shows The World Its Model For A 21st-Century Police State.” China is emerging as an “unapologetic autocracy that censors the Internet, imprisons nonviolent domestic critics and bulldozes anything or anyone deemed to be in the way of a state-orchestrated showcase.” And the IOC “has meekly gone along with Beijing’s violation of its promises” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/3). A SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE editorial is written under the header, “Fiasco Olympics? Broken Promises, Bullying Bode Ill For Beijing.” There has been “no evolution toward a more open society,” and the Beijing Games are “at least as likely to set back China’s image as help it” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/4). A SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE editorial stated while the Chinese government “can’t order the skies to clear,” they “can stick to their agreements.” But instead, they have "continued to clamp down on the freedom of information in every which way” (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 8/3). A PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER editorial stated the hope is that the Olympics “will help make China freer. But its actions to date show how hard that will be” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/3). DAILY VARIETY’s Clifford Coonan notes after “days of negative publicity for failing to meet its promises to be more open for the Games … Beijing is trying to balance the need to give some leeway to its critics with fears that it could be embarrassed by protest groups out to make a point” (DAILY VARIETY, 8/4). Three different public protest zones have been set up by BOCOG, but Chicago Tribune Beijing bureau chief Evan Osnos said, “There’s a difference saying there are protest areas, and then, in fact, allowing people to protest there without consequences” (“Today,” NBC, 8/4).

    IOC Catching Heat For China Blocking
    Media's Access To Certain Web Sites
    IOC TO BLAME? In S.F., Gwen Knapp wrote if the Games “go badly, the Olympic movement will take a harder hit than the Chinese government.” Last week’s “revelation of online censorship and the Chinese organizers’ sense of entitlement about it suggested a spectacular breakdown.” The IOC “may have steered its hosts back on course, but for how long?” The principal of free speech “should have been ingrained in the organizers years ago.” The “hard line about where TV cameras can go should have blurred by now. But the IOC has failed. It has been neutered in its relationship with China” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/3). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Joseph Sternberg writes under the header, “Olympics, Inc.” The IOC “appears unfazed by this blatant promise-breaking.” Rogge “refused to apologize for the censorship. It’s all in stark contract to the noble ideals the Olympics are supposed to represent.” Sternberg: “Treat the [IOC] as the business it is, tax it, and let it get on with the very big business of running a major global sporting event” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/4). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote under the header, “IOC Can’t Run Away From Responsibility, Blame.” China is “not going to change its government just because the Olympics are there for 17 days.” What “we’re seeing now is massive global spin by one of the world’s most disingenuous and corrupt outfits,” the IOC. Attempting to keep politics out of the Olympics is a “noble but futile endeavor” (, 8/1). A Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE editorial stated the IOC “should avoid awarding the games to countries that treat citizens and visitors alike as prison inmates” (Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE, 8/2). In Philadelphia, Steve Friess wrote, “Nobody should be surprised … that things are not as the Chinese promised they would be.” The “most frustrating part is that we knew this was how it was going to be” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/3). A Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW editorial stated, “History should have taught the IOC never to pass its torch to countries that are determined to extinguish the human spirit” (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/3).

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  • Beijing Venues Impressive Despite Local Firms, "Modest" Budgets

    Aquatic Centre Draws Rave
    Reviews From Architecture Critic
    Though BOCOG officials are "not so keen to admit it now to foreign reporters," they have "tilted the balance of architectural power [for Olympic venues] decidedly in the direction of local firms and modest budgets," according to architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne of the L.A. TIMES. The Wukesong Indoor Stadium, where basketball will be played, was designed by the Beijing Architecture Research Institute (BARI), a group of government architects "about as avant-garde as its name would imply." As a result, the arena is a "good deal less flashy than planned." It is a "boxy arena clad in strips of aluminum alloy that resemble stalks of wheat blowing gently in the wind: hardly innovative but quite handsome all the same." However, organizers "never lost sight of the fact" that the Beijing National Stadium and the Aquatic Centre, nicknamed the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, respectively, are "sure to star in worldwide television coverage of the Games." The Bird's Nest "lost a planned retractable roof to cost-cutting, but its total capacity fell just 10,000 seats, to 90,000, and it remains the most daring stadium built anywhere in the last decade." At the Water Cube, the "whole structure radiates the idea of water," as the structure is "covered in huge bubbles, some nearly 25 feet across." If the concept "seems a bit forced, the final product has an easy, unforced charisma." Inside the Water Cube, the "quality of light filtering through those bubbles is ethereal, combining with the diving platforms and the blue-and-white plastic seats to create an effect somewhere between community pool and Gothic cathedral." The Bird's Nest and Water Cube also "suggest the huge civic and urban-planning importance that ruling-party officials in Beijing attach to these Olympics." The largest venues are "landmarks in an old-fashioned sense, and the ruling party is determined to bask in their reflected glow" (L.A. TIMES, 8/4).

    MASSIVE MAKEOVER: In London, Clifford Coonan notes of the 31 Olympics venues, 12 are new, 11 are renovated older buildings and eight are temporary structures. Beijing's new architecture "looks amazing," and the building boom "has been matched by impressive levels of organisation elsewhere." And despite the "destruction of large swathes of the city, most of the people remain unapologetically enthusiastic about the games" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/4). Also in London, Jane Macartney notes Beijing has spent US$40B and "spared no effort" to make the Olympics the "most spectacular Games of modern times." The "not-so-subliminal message that the venues are determined to project is that China is a force to be reckoned with." It seems Beijing "has come full circle" (LONDON TIMES, 8/4). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes the Bird's Nest is an "architectural knockout" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/4). But in Pittsburgh, Shelly Anderson wrote while observers may be "dazzled by the modern, almost pop-art Olympic venues," it is "unclear if that will be enough to quiet concerns over human rights issues" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/3).

    RETRO-CHIC: In Chicago, Blair Kamin wrote the "spectacular architecture will play a leading role" in the Games, as TV cameras will capture "some of the most eye-popping new structures on the planet." But Chicago Mayor Richard Daley "already has signaled that a Chicago Games would be based not on the Beijing model, but on the Barcelona model, which emphasized refurbishing the urban spaces between buildings rather than attention-getting architecture" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/3).

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  • On The Ground In Beijing: GE Touts Return On Olympic Investment

    Rogge Speaks At Grand Opening Of The
    GE Imagination Center Today In Beijing
    GE can point to roughly $700M in China-related sales thanks to its sponsorship of the Beijing Games, according to Peter Foss, the company's President of Olympic Sponsorship & Corporate Sales. Foss made the comments during the first TOP-sponsor shindig of the Olympics, in which GE held a grand opening of its two-story, 16,500-square-foot GE Imagination Center today. "Our sponsorship is about selling something," Foss said. He added that since GE signed on as a TOP sponsor and ramped up its business activity in China, the company "can look and identify about $700(M) (in increased sales) that's directly related to the Olympics here in Beijing." GE has supplied energy distribution, lighting, water treatment and security equipment and systems to 400 different projects around Beijing, according to the company. About 12,000 of GE's 300,000 employees worldwide are based in China. GE is building a China headquarters in Shanghai. IOC President Jacques Rogge presided over the opening of the Imagination Center, and NBC Universal Sports and Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol also attended. Foss said GE is expecting 6,000 spectators a day to visit the Imagination Center during the Games. The Imagination Center's emphasis is on sustainability, an issue critical to China's 1.3 billion people. Indeed, today's grand opening was held amid 95-degree heat, shirt-drenching 70% humidity and a heavy, hazy sky.

    CATCHING UP WITH FOSS: After the official grand opening, Foss answered a few questions from THE DAILY about GE's Olympic sponsorship.

    Q: What's the purpose of the GE Imagination Center exhibit? Why do this?

    Foss: It's really for identification. GE, from a standpoint of brand awareness and company awareness, had an opportunity to highlight our technologies. Here in China, up until two years ago when we became an Olympic sponsor and really began focusing on this area, not many people knew GE, they didn't know who we were and what we did.

    Q: Was becoming a TOP sponsor purely a China play?

    Foss: It was a China play. It was also a natural extension of the relationship that NBC has had with the IOC. Clearly, it fit into a strategy we have for growth, big growth, here in Asia. It is not only about the Olympics, it's about the other $250B that's being spent on infrastructure throughout China. We're an infrastructure company. You've got 200 cities with over 1 million people. You're going to build airports, hospitals, production of energy, power plants, water -- it's all stuff that we do.

    Foss Says TOP Sponsorship Has
    Been Beneficial For General Electric
    Q: How do you measure how your sponsorship is doing?

    Foss: From an incremental growth standpoint, we can look and identify about $700M of business that's directly related to the Olympics here in Beijing.

    Q: So has that business already paid for the TOP sponsorship?

    Foss: Oh, I wouldn't say that. ... It's revenue, not profit I'm talking about. It isn't just about the revenue piece. You've got the marketing pieces and the PR pieces and the hospitality pieces. We'll entertain upward of 2,200 customers here. You add that up, it's more than just paying for a sponsorship. But they are all aimed at awareness of our brand. It's been very good for us.

    For more on this story, our Q&A with Foss and Jay Weiner’s first weekend in Beijing, please visit

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  • Olympic Gymnast, Agent Work As Team To Appeal To Sponsors

    Agent Helps Liukin Beef Up Endorsement 
    Portfolio Ahead Of Beijing Olympics
    U.S. gymnast Nastia Liukin, her agent, Premier Management Group's Evan Morgenstein, and her sponsorships are profiled in N.Y. TIMES' PLAY magazine by Mimi Swartz, who notes Morgenstein and Liukin's relationship is "less like that of a parent and child and closer to that of a big brother and kid sister." Morgenstein: "So many of these athletes have sports psychiatrists, and that's my role with her. Agent, confidant, friend, business manager, adviser -- I feel like I hold a lot of hats with her, and that's what makes our relationship special." Swartz reports Morgenstein's first deal with Liukin was with AT&T that includes print and online ads through '08. It is considered a "wait-and-see arrangement typical of sponsors that don't want to sign long-term agreements until their athletes prove themselves at the Games." Morgenstein: "Nastia lives the perfect AT&T life. She's always e-mailing on her iPhone or BlackBerry, or calling her friends. She's using thousands of minutes a month, and if you're AT&T, could there be anyone better?" AT&T VP/Brand Sponsorships Jamie Butcher: "Liukin is very on-brand for AT&T. When you think Nastia, you think winner, hope, spirit, class act. We want people to think of AT&T that way." Swartz notes after signing the AT&T deal, Morgenstein "negotiated a deal with Adidas, that, like [Liukin's] Visa contract, stretches through 2008, and a more lucrative renewal of her contract with a company called GK Elite Sportswear, which makes a signature line of Liukin leotards." Morgenstein also "suggested new ways in which to expand the Nastia franchise; a pink balance beam and matching hand weights, autographed by Liukin, for a division of Spalding called American Athletic Inc. (AAI), and an appearance on the package of the Sega Olympics video game." In addition to the aforementioned sponsorship pacts, Liukin also has deals with CoverGirl makeup, Secret deodorant and Vanilla Star jeans. Meanwhile, Morgenstein "wants to find a health-care provider or a packaged-food company that Liukin can work with to encourage healthy eating among kids" -- he has a Liukin-branded "energy drink for young women in mind and a motivational-speaking tour aimed at tweens" (PLAY, 8/ '08 issue).

    Torres Inks Multi-Million Dollar, Two-Book Deal
    With Random House's Broadway Books
    MAKING A SPLASH: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle reports U.S. swimmer Dara Torres has "already made a big splash, signing a multimillion-dollar two-book deal with Random House's Broadway Books." The deal will have Torres, who at 41 years old is the oldest female swimmer in Olympic history, "write a memoir for a spring 2009 release and a fitness guide for publication in early 2011." Industry sources "pegged the combined advance and marketing commitment against both books at $3[M]." Morgenstein, who also reps Torres, said, "We've created a longevity to Dara's story. That creates a lot of opportunities to sell beyond the publication." Mickle notes the books were "acquired by Broadway's editor-in-chief, Stacy Creamer, who previously edited Lance Armstrong's best-selling books 'It's Not About the Bike' and 'Every Second Counts.'" Creamer will "edit the Torres books, as well" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/4 issue).

    HAMM WILL STILL BE FEATURED: Even though U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm pulled out of the Beijing Games last week, he has not been forgotten by his key sponsors. Visa has developed a 30-second spot and a Web film starring Hamm, and he is also a key part of the TOP sponsor's "Go World" Web presentation. All commercial spots are expected to run as planned online; apparently they were not definitely set for over-the-air TV. And Visa's "Go World" video will not be altered either. There had been talk that Hamm would be in Beijing after the men's gymnastics competition, as many of his sponsors sought him for hospitality purposes. But his agent, Shade Global's Sheryl Shade, said today that Hamm will stay stateside to prepare for the post-Olympic gymnastics tour. Along with Visa, Hamm also has deals with Johnson & Johnson, Chevron, Hilton, adidas, GK Elite Sportswear and the American Dairy Association for its "Got Milk?" campaign (Jay Weiner, THE DAILY).

    ALREADY LOOKING TO LONDON: In N.Y., Holly Sanders reports Visa is "already evaluating its lineup of athletes for London in 2012," as marketers "will start working the phones as soon as Beijing is over." Q Sports Founder Patrick Quinn: "Within two weeks of Beijing, we will have done our first outreach. You have companies that laugh, but you have to do it." Octagon's Peter Carlisle, who reps several Olympians including swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff, said, "A lot of what you see -- the positioning and the developing of the athletes' images for corporate interests -- is done well in advance of the Games. I'm less interested in signing an athlete after they do well at the Games." Octagon is "looking to prolong the spotlight" for Phelps and Hoff, each considered favorites to win several gold medals, as it is "planning a sponsored media tour for the pair and the firm's other Olympians as soon as the Games wind down" (N.Y. POST, 8/4).

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  • Beijing Games Could Spark Largest Ad, Marketing Campaign

    Sponsors of the Beijing Games are "launching possibly the largest advertising and marketing campaign ever," according to Kirby Chien of REUTERS. Beijing-based media consultancy R3 Principal Greg Paull: "On a global scale, I don't think you are going to get this kind of investment again." R3 indicated that advertisers in China will "spend 19[%] more in 2008 than a year earlier to about $54.3[B], for an 'Olympic effect' of about $8.6[B] in additional spending." In addition, Paull noted that Olympic sponsors will spend $3.2B this year, up 52% from '07 (REUTERS, 8/3).

    Nike Plans To Have Opened 4,000
    Retail Stores In China By Year's End
    RACE AFTER THE FINISH: In Portland, Brent Hunsberger reported on the Olympic-related marketing efforts of Nike and adidas. adidas by the end of '08 "plans to have opened 5,000 retail stores in China," while Nike is planning 4,000, and the companies combined will see sales in China "exceed $2[B] this year for the first time." Both companies have "created dozens of sport-specific shoe styles for athletes at the games -- more than in any previous Olympics," and for the first time, the companies are "putting the shoes immediately on sale to the public." Shanghai-based Zou Marketing Managing Dir Terry Rhoades, who previously worked for Nike, said, "They're both in this amazing battle. They're really going at each other. They're both sort of flying so high above the other brands." Former execs said that Nike and adidas after the Games will "employ consultants such as The Nielsen Co. to measure their brands' image, strength, consumer recall and impression of ads." Experts said that Nike and adidas each will "measure consumer's intent to purchase a brand's products, comparing those with pre-event surveys." Overall, adidas sponsors 3,000 athletes, 16 national committees and 214 country sport federations, while Nike has said that it "sponsors thousands of individual athletes worldwide and dozens of national committees and teams" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/3). A student in Beijing said, "Among the 28 students in my class at college, only five did not have Nike or Adidas shoes." XINHUA's Sun Yuniong noted although young people "liked international brands, older Chinese people still prefer domestic brands for their cheap prices" (XINHUA, 8/3).

    PUMA KING: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Vanessa Friedman reported Puma this week in Beijing is "celebrating the debut of its inaugural 'It Bag,' the first such attempt to penetrate the trend-driven handbag market on the part of a sportswear company." The bag's name is part of Puma's larger "Runway collection," whose name refers to both its "appearance in a catwalk fashion show and Puma's sponsorship of 10 different track and field teams," including Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz: "We felt it was time we had an It bag." Friedman noted "accessories are among Puma's fastest growing product categories." Zeitz: "Chinese consumers have been focused on the performance aspect in the past but now they are definitely looking at fashion. Sponsorship in the Olympics does not push significant sales because there are so many different sports involved and you can't be everywhere, but the fashion focus on athletes gives you visibility because it is such a major event for China" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/2).

    Watch The Clip

    NOTES: USA TODAY's Petrecca, Horovitz & Howard reviews IOC TOP sponsor Johnson & Johnson's "Thanks, Mom" Olympic campaign and notes the heart-tugging ads show athletes sharing "unscripted stories about how their moms helped shape their lives." The company "have taken the tears out of baby shampoo -- but it put them into" the ads (USA TODAY, 8/4)....A new NBC Universal promo for the theatrical release of  "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" ties in scenes of the movie with the Beijing Games. The film is set in China, and Dartmouth Univ. Tuck School of Business professor Kevin Lane Keller said, "They really are trying to weave this parallel story with China and the Olympics and this film, and it doesn't really flow together very well." In N.Y., Stephanie Clifford reports Universal moved the film's scheduled mid-July opening to last Friday "to try to get a lift from the Olympics." Meanwhile, the ads have been running since July 1 on NBC nets, in Universal theme parks and in N.Y. taxicabs (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4).

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  • Cablevision, NBC Yet To Reach Deal For Full Olympic Coverage

    Cablevision and NBC Universal "have not come to an agreement for Cablevision to carry 2,200 hours of live online, broadband Summer Games coverage" that will be streamed to computers, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The failure to reach a deal "also means that Cablevision subscribers will not receive NBC's new Olympic basketball and soccer channels." NBC said that about 90% of the "nation's subscribers to cable, satellite and telecommunications services would have access to the enhanced Olympic package" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/2). On Long Island, Neil Best noted between 70-80% of "homes with broadband Internet on Long Island subscribe through Cablevision" (NEWSDAY, 8/2).

    NBC's "Today" Show Broadcasting
    From Beijing During The Olympics
    TODAY IS THE DAY TO SHINE: In L.A., Matea Gold writes NBC's "Today" show, which will broadcast from Beijing throughout the Olympics, "serves as one of the network's main promotional vehicles for the event, a place where athletes ... will either rejoice in victory or mourn their loss." "Today" show Exec Producer Jim Bell said of issues at the Games surrounding China's human-rights record, media censorship and environmental efforts, "I do think there's an opportunity for us to shine a light on some of those questions. I think you'll see that we will answer the call. When there's news, we will deal with the issues as they come." But Gold writes it "remains to be seen how many tough questions about China 'Today' will raise on its own." "Today" co-host Matt Lauer: "We aren't going to go there as guests of the Chinese government and deliberately poke sharp sticks in their eyes. We're not going to go out of our way to do it. But we think there are going to be a lot of opportunities to bring the subject up, based on the events of the day." The show last week did not report on "Beijing's ongoing pollution problems, a topic that received substantial coverage in other media outlets." But Bell said that that "doesn't mean it's going to ignore such topics" (L.A. TIMES, 8/4).

    PEACOCK PLAN: The N.Y. TIMES' Sandomir today previews NBC's Olympics coverage and notes fans watching online "will not see live gymnastics, track and field, swimming, diving, volleyball or beach volleyball." Those sports are "reserved for NBC" from either 7:00 or 8:00pm ET to "midnight or beyond, when the audience is at its height and advertisers are paying the most." If something "important happens online, it may find its way into prime time." But certain events "will not be available online until they are done and available on-demand." NBC said that "adding an enormous online component will help in prime time." NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel: "We proved to ourselves in Athens that providing as much coverage as we have the capacity for fuels the buzz in the Games" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4). The FINANCIAL TIMES' Joshua Chaffin reported NBC has "taken out an insurance policy -- said to be worth $1[B] -- in the event that its telecast is disturbed." NBC claims to have sold 96% of its ad inventory, and some ad execs said that the net "achieved this, in part, by offering discounts to its Olympic customers on other business." One ad exec said, "They were willing to take a hit elsewhere to make the Olympics look good" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/3).

    CANADIAN BACON: The GLOBE & MAIL's William Houston reported the CBC has sold 80% of its Olympics ad time and "expects to see that percentage increase to 90" by Friday's Opening Ceremony. The net has been selling 30-second primetime spots for C$18,250, while a 30-second spot in the morning is selling for C$4,650 and 12:00-3:00am spots are going for C$8,100. The CBC "expects Beijing audiences to surpass the Athens numbers from 2004 because programming in prime time will be live starting" at 9:00pm ET, while primetime action from Athens was tape delayed. The net, which paid C$45M for rights to the Beijing Games, "won't say whether its coverage will turn a profit," but an ad source "believes it will" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/2).

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  • On The Ground In Beijing: GWU Professor Lisa Delpy Neirotti

    Neirotti Giving 28 College Students Behind-
    The-Scenes Look At Beijing Olympics
    Over the next few weeks, SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily will speak to various sports business execs who are on the ground for the Beijing Games to gain perspective and first-person accounts of this historically significant event. Today we focus on Lisa Delpy Neirotti, associate professor of tourism & sports management at George Washington Univ. Delpy Neirotti, who departed on a 13 1/2-hour flight from Dulles to Beijing last Monday, has been to 13 Olympics. This time around, she's leading a group of 28 students to the Games from August 4-24.
    The students are enrolled in her "Behind the Scenes at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games." Before leaving for Beijing, they heard lectures on the business side of the Games, and once there will meet with various executives and groups. We caught up with Delpy Neirotti shortly before she left, and will get periodic updates while she's in Beijing.

    Q: What will be your role in Beijing?

    Delpy Neirotti: I will organize lectures with high-level executives associated with the Olympic Games, including IOC members and staff, corporate sponsors, BOCOG, international federations, media, athletes, volunteers and the U.S. Olympic Committee. I will also arrange behind-the-scene tours of the Olympic venues. We will also be collecting data from foreign visitors about their consumer behavior, motivations and perceptions of the Games.

    Q: What are you most interested in while at the Games?

    Delpy Neirotti: The overall management and marketing of the Games and comparing these Olympics to the previous 13 that I have attended. Of particular interest to me is how the Chinese will handle any crisis or negative event, media access and counterfeit merchandise.

    Q: What's been the biggest area of preparation?

    Delpy Neirotti: Dealing with the logistics of housing, speakers and tours. Also making sure students are well prepared both about the Olympics and Chinese culture.

    Neirotti Says She Is Most Looking
    Forward To Opening Ceremony
    Q: The things you're looking forward to the most, and concerned about the most?

    Delpy Neirotti: I'm really looking forward to attending the Opening Ceremony and witnessing the pride of the Chinese people, who have anxiously awaited these Games. My major concern is figuring out mass transit and how to get to all our meetings in a timely and safe fashion. As part of the learning experience our group travels by public transport, no private coach.

    Q: What book are you bringing to Beijing to read?

    Delpy Neirotti: Student term papers! The students had to turn in papers two-thirds complete prior to departure. The final paper is submitted upon return, incorporating information and observations gained on-site in Beijing and data results from spectator surveys. The papers cover all aspects of the management and marketing of the Games, ranging from economic impact, legacy and environment, to facilities, transportation and ticketing, to ambush marketing, new media and public educational campaigns.

    Q: Before you leave, do you have any other thoughts?

    Delpy Neirotti: Flexibility will be the key for these Games, as things seem to change daily. Student flights were just re-routed as a decision to close the airport during the Opening Ceremony was made. My students have an interesting flight -- going from DC to New York to Seoul, Korea, and then Beijing!

    Do you have a question for Lisa? If so, e-mail

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  • Olympic Notes

    Clearer Beijing Days Result Of Recent
    Increase In Antipollution Measures?
    With members of the int'l press corps beginning to arrive in Beijing, several are documenting the details of the experience. In London, Brendan Gallagher writes, "Arriving in the Beijing airport was like being Royalty for the day. We were swept through endless glistening corridors, red tape was kept to a minimum and in no time [we] were in our own 54 seater bus headed for the Media village" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/4). In Edmonton, Terry Jones wrote under the header, "Early Report Is 'Wow.'" After traveling to Beijing 11 months ago and "not be able to see more than a kilometre," Jones wrote his arrival in the city Saturday, which included having "a day so clear you could see the Great Wall of China from the plane and see the tall buildings from all over Beijing from the ground, was a stunning transformation." Meanwhile, the media village "is by far the most modern I've ever encountered" (EDMONTON SUN, 8/3). USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes, "A couple of initial thoughts from these Olympics: They are extremely well-organized, not that we'd know that back in the States with the way the Chinese government's behavior overshadows all else. ... The other key point: The Chinese are clearly ready to get on with these Olympics" (USA TODAY, 8/4).

    AIR QUALITY FLUCTUATING: NBC’s Matt Lauer reported from atop the Great Wall of China and said the country “is ready” for the Games. Lauer: “We got here on Saturday afternoon, blue sky, and it was beautiful. (Sunday) was the same. Today, as the expression goes, not so much. We’ve had a fog layer that’s held in a lot of the pollution” (“Today,” NBC, 8/4). NBC's Lester Holt Saturday said the “city is ready, it looks great." Holt: "They’ve had two great days of weather here in terms of the smog. Both mornings, I’ve been able to wake up, look outside my window and see the mountains. That’s a big deal here” ("Today," NBC, 8/2). The SUN's Jones today writes the story in Beijing "the past two days has been the smog-free host city greeting everybody." Canadian Chef de Mission Sylvie Bernier said, "The best thing is the weather. I went with my family to the Great Wall of China [Sunday] and, while I've been there twice before, it was just stunning to be able to see so far." Meanwhile, Canadian Olympic Committee Dir of Games Carol Assalian said, "It's already agreed that the Olympic Village is the best, winter or summer, of all time. It's incredible. There's no doubt the athletes will feel that way" (TORONTO SUN, 8/4).

    NOTES: All recording devices are "prohibited at the dress rehearsals" for Friday's Opening Ceremony after footage from a previous test run was leaked online last week. BOCOG Saturday said that "cameras, video cameras and recording equipment on mobile phones are prohibited" from the remaining rehearsals. BOCOG added "any information leaked to the public about the opening ceremony will be dealt with severely" (, 8/3)....The IOC announced that it would donate $4M to "help rebuild the sports infrastructure in the earthquake-damaged Sichuan province of China." BOCOG and the Chinese Olympic Committee matched that donation with $2M each (N.Y. TIMES, 8/3)....IOC President Jacques Rogge said that "talks with the [USOC] over a new formula to determine its share of revenues from IOC marketing and TV revenues will be held in Beijing once USOC chair Peter Ueberroth arrives" (, 8/2)....The AP's Ben Feller reported President Bush is spending four days in Beijing for the Games, and he is "doing more than just dropping by." Bush plans to "take in as much as he can, with large blocs on his Beijing schedule devoted to watching athletes compete." No U.S. president has attended an Olympics on foreign ground (AP, 8/2).

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