SBD/Issue 15/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Hudson's Bay Co. Goes For Simpler Look For '10 Games Apparel

HBC's Official Canadian Olympic Apparel
Pared Down, Simple, With Slight Vintage Feel
Hudson's Bay Co. (HBC) Thursday unveiled the official Canadian Olympic team clothing line for the '10 Vancouver Games, and the designs are “pared down and simple, with a slight vintage feel,” according to Derick Chetty of the TORONTO STAR. The look is a “far cry from the wildly graphic prints of Canadian and Chinese patterns the company used -- to much criticism -- for the Beijing Olympics.” HBC Fashion Dir Suzanne Timmins said that part of the “clean, spare look was inspired by the great Canadian graphic artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s” (TORONTO STAR, 10/2). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Rod Mickleburgh writes, “Gone were all signs of the off-beat, camouflage-style Olympic design that proved a merchandising flop for HBC around last year’s Summer Games.” HBC has “gone back to basics with an attractive, straight-forward clothing line that throws in a lot of black, in addition to Canada’s traditional Olympics colours of red and white.” HBC President & CEO Jeff Sherman: “We designed this so that people will feel good about wearing it leading up to the Olympics and long after. That did not happen in Beijing.” Mickleburgh  notes early indications are that the new products “will be a hit.” Hockey Canada Exec Dir Steve Yzerman: “It’s very stylish and very comfortable and easy to wear. You talk about pressure being on the Olympic team, there’s a lot of pressure on [HBC] to deliver the goods, as well, and they’ve done it.” Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) CEO Chris Rudge added, “This line of apparel screams ‘Canada’” (CTVOLYMPICS.com, 10/2).

FASHION FORWARD? The GLOBE & MAIL’s Amy Verner writes HBC’s new line is “certainly a safer and more obvious direction than the cross-cultural mess that made the Beijing clothing such an embarrassment.” These are items that have been “designed to sell; even if some Canadians are left cold by the nostalgic knitwear, foreigners will likely regard the pieces as quaint and worth buying as stylish souvenirs.” Where the apparel “comes up short is originality.” Online feedback Thursday “suggested a mildly positive reaction to the collection, especially compared to the Summer 2008 clothes, which were largely unwearable” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/2). Timmins said that she “thinks the must-have item will be the pom pom toque,” priced at C$20. Timmins: “I would love to see that everywhere” (CALGARY SUN, 10/2). Timmins said that “everything to be worn by Canadian athletes will be made in Canada; only 25[%] of the merchandise sold to consumers will be Canadian-made.” In Vancouver, Bruce Constantineau notes the total value of licensed Olympic merchandise worldwide is “expected to top the [C$500M] mark by the time the Games end, resulting in about [C$54M] in revenue for VANOC” (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/2). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Marina Strauss notes HBC has priced the clothing about 20-25% “lower than items produced for the 2006 Winter Games in Torino.” Charlton Strategic Research Inc. President Gordon Hendren said that 11% of Canadians “reported buying Canadian Olympics merchandise” during the Beijing Games, down from 17% for Torino. Hendren said of HBC, “They clearly missed the mark in the past two Games. This is a big one. What’s at stake here is much bigger than it was in the past” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/2).

Canada's Liberal Party Says Olympic Logo (l)
Too Similar To Conservative Party's Logo (r)
PLAYING POLITICS: CANWEST NEW SERVICE’s David Akin notes Canada’s Liberal Party charged that the official logo that will adorn ’10 Olympic clothing “bears a too-striking resemblance to the logo of the Conservative Party of Canada.” However, Canadian Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn said that any resemblance “was coincidental.” Lunn: “I can assure you that no one in the government of Canada was involved in any way, shape or form in the design of any of the Olympic clothing. In fact the first time I saw it was (Wednesday).” COC Media Relations Manager Isabelle Hodge added, “There’s absolutely no connection whatsoever, with the logo we unveiled and any political logo” (CANWEST NEWS SERVICE, 10/2). Yzerman, when told the logo on an HBC T-shirt he was sporting looked like the Conservative Party logo, said, “I don’t know anything about politics. I don’t even know what the Conservative Party logo looks like. It’s more a blend between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames logo, to me” (VANCOUVER PROVINCE, 10/2).

AMERICAN INFLUENCE: The VANCOUVER SUN’s Constantineau notes the home base for Canada’s Olympic team during the ’10 Games will sit within a building that “features nine massive exterior banners of U.S. athletes.” IOC TOP sponsors Visa, which is responsible for 15 of the 32 banners, “chose to feature nine U.S. athletes and six Canadian Olympians.” HBC features Canadian athletes on all of its 17 banners. COC Dir of Communications Steve Keogh said that the COC “doesn’t have a problem with competing athletes adorning the building’s exterior” (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/2). Visa Canada Acting Head of Corporate Communications Amy Cole said that the banners are “part of the company’s ‘Go World’ campaign.” Cole: “They profile members of Team Visa, which is a global program” (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/2).

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