SBD/Issue 86/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Vancouver Olympics Seeing Less Ambush Marketing Than Past Games

Some Feel Blenz' Promotions Featuring
Ricker Border On Ambush Marketing
VANOC CEO John Furlong said that there "has probably been less ambush marketing" around the Vancouver Games than at previous Olympics, and he "credits that to VANOC's early vigilance on the issue," according to Bruce Constantineau of the VANCOUVER SUN. VANOC Dir of Commercial Rights Management Bill Cooper estimated that "about 1,500 non-Olympic sponsors have been contacted about improper association with the Games so far," and he said that about 90-95% of those issues "were resolved by the voluntary actions of those advertisers." Cooper: "If we succeed in delivering sponsors value in these Games, they're much more likely to reinvest into amateur sport in Canada after the Games. And their competitors who see their success are likely to reinvest too, or explore investment." Ad agency OMD Vancouver GM Rick Anderson said that there has been "less Olympic ambush marketing activity than he expected." Anderson: "For the most part, non-sponsors are stepping back because they realize the negative backlash they might get just isn't worth it." But Coca-Cola Canada Dir of Public Affairs & Communications David Moran said that the IOC TOP sponsor is "clearly concerned with rival Pepsi's attempt to promote a new Team Canada cheer" at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. Constantineau noted Lululemon Athletica, which sells yoga apparel, "got under VANOC's skin last month by launching a clothing line called the 'Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011 Edition.'" VANOC "complained, but the company still sells the clothing, now marketed as 'Cheer Gear.'" But some marketing efforts that "seem to push VANOC's boundaries appear to have been approved by the Olympic body." A Blenz Coffee Company cup sleeve features an image of Canada snowboarder Maelle Ricker "in red mittens -- similar to the popular official Olympic red mittens -- surrounded by rings that appear to overlap." Blenz co-Founder Brian Noble said that the rings are "actually coffee-cup stains, a marketing image the company has used for 16 years" (VANCOUVER SUN, 1/16).

GETTING SOCIAL: McDonald's Exec VP & Global CMO Mary Dillon said that social media will "play a larger role in the way McDonald's will activate its sponsorship of the Vancouver Olympics." In the U.S., McDonald's "How do you McNugget?" promotion will "allow fans on Twitter and Facebook to follow and try to find athletes in different cities across the United States on the social networks." Meanwhile, Dillon said that the company's Champion Kids program will "involve more athletes than in Beijing." U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson is "serving as an ambassador for the program," and other athletes included in McDonald's ads are Canada speedskater Cindy Klassen, Canada snowboarders Brad Martin and Crispin Lipscomb and Canada skier Alexandre Bilodeau (, 1/17).

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