SBD/Issue 93/Olympics

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  • USOC Scolds Companies For Alleged Ambush Marketing Efforts

    Watch The Verizon Spot

    The USOC today released a statement admonishing companies for alleged ambush marketing campaigns ahead of the Vancouver Games. In the statement, the USOC said, “Ambush marketing is unfair and runs contrary to the Olympic spirit because it allows the ambush marketer to benefit from an association with the Olympic marks without providing any financial support to America’s athletes and the global Olympic Movement. These companies damage official Olympic sponsors and undermine the USOC’s financial means to ensure that America’s athletes are given the best chance to perform to their best potential on the field of play.” Over the past two weeks, the USOC has reached out to Subway and Verizon Wireless regarding campaigns it considers to be ambush marketing. Subway is running a commercial that features Gold Medalist Michael Phelps swimming his way across land toward Vancouver, “where the action is this winter.” That commercial has upset TOP sponsor McDonald's, which has ownership of the category. Similarly, Verizon is airing a commercial that shows a speedskater in red being pulled past his competition by the power of a phone on Verizon's 3G network. That commercial has upset AT&T, which is the official telecommunications partner of the USOC. Both AT&T and McDonald's have voiced their frustrations about the commercials to the USOC, which is responsible for policing ambush marketing in the U.S. The USOC has reached out to both Verizon and Subway and asked them to change their commercials. USOC CMO Lisa Baird said, “The Olympics are all about fair play. The campaigns that infringe on that are about the opposite. Everyone in the Olympic movement feels strongly about this.”

    Watch The Subway Spot

    IOC ALSO UPSET: The IOC has been equally vocal about the alleged ambush marketing. Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television & Marketing Services, said, “What isn't right is... any concerted attempt to confuse the public and falsely create an association in this case with the Olympics. You have to question the values of any such company. It's a free-loader attempt.” Verizon Wireless, Subway, AT&T and McDonald's did not respond to requests for comment. In the statement, new USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said, “It is incredibly disappointing to see American companies taking advantage of the spirit of the Olympic Winter Games for their own profit, and at the expense of America’s Olympic athletes. Olympism is based upon a spirit of fair play, and ambush marketing clearly violates that spirit. The USOC extends our sincere gratitude to all our official Olympic sponsors and suppliers. In the U.S., the USOC would be unable to support America’s athletes and send the best prepared U.S. team to the Olympic Games every two years. It is the financial generosity of these companies that enable U.S. Olympians to reach for their dreams, and in turn, inspire all Americans.” Added Gerhard Heiberg, Executive Board Member of the IOC and Chair of the IOC Marketing Commission, “Ultimately, companies which try to create the false impression that they are an official partner of the Olympic Games, or create a false association with the Olympic Games, are cheating Olympic athletes, Olympic Games’ organisers and Olympic fans. It is important that the public is made aware of these organizations and how they are depriving the Olympic Games and sport development around the world of essential support.”

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  • Coca-Cola Launches Multiplatform Campaign Ahead Of Olympics

    Watch The "Snowball" Spot
    Coca-Cola is running a multifaceted Olympic-themed marketing campaign in the U.S. ahead of the Vancouver Games. Coca-Cola Olympic-themed collectible cans and FridgePacks featuring silhouettes inspired by Winter Olympic sports, including figure skating, ice hockey, speedskating and snowboarding, are currently hitting stores. An additional commemorative can featuring a contemporary interpretation of the Inukshuk, the symbol of the Vancouver Games, will be released closer to the February 12 Opening Ceremony. Coca-Cola has also launched a global Olympic TV commercial, "Snowball," and a series of four 15-second spots promoting the collectible cans. Two 30-second spots featuring Coca-Cola's "Six-Pack" of athletes and cans will run on NBC during the network's primetime Olympics coverage. Coca-Cola also is partnering with NBC as an exclusive sponsor of Team USA on NBCOlympics.com and NBCOlympics mobile. The sponsorship includes a custom content section featuring Olympic highlights and a mobile application (Coca-Cola).

    OFF THE MEDAL STAND: ADWEEK's Barbara Lippert wrote "Snowball," the "first of two 60-second Coca-Cola spots created by Wieden + Kennedy for the Winter Olympics," is supposed to serve as the "galvanizer for some high-energy high jinks and global kumbaya." But the merriment is "forced," and  despite some "fun winter-sport references ... it never gels." Lippert: "'Snowball' hardly warms us up to the idea of having a cold one." But Lippert wrote "Finals," Coca-Cola's second spot, is "beautifully executed," and the animated parts are "exquisite." Lippert: "It's also a cooler concept and I like it a lot more than 'Snowball,' even if it starts out like a not-terribly-memorable mashup of kids' movies like 'A Night at the Museum' and past spots" (ADWEEK.com, 1/24).

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  • Olympic Notes: Anti-Olympic Activists Withdraw Lawsuit

    In Vancouver, Gery Bellett reported anti-Olympic activists have "withdrawn their lawsuit against the City of Vancouver following amendments to some controversial bylaws that placed restrictions on anti-games protests and where they could take place." Univ. of B.C. professor Chris Shaw and Alissa Westergard-Thorpe "filed the suit in response to bylaws they claimed offended civil liberties and violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms." Shaw on Monday said, "The city has rewritten those bylaws. We see it as a good tactical victory and I think we've got most of the stuff we wanted -- about 80[%] of it." B.C. Civil Liberties Association Exec Dir David Eby said that the "most contentious parts of the bylaws, which outlawed any Olympic protests within a 40-block zone in downtown Vancouver, have been rescinded" (VANCOUVER SUN, 1/26).

    SECURITY SYSTEM: In DC, Spencer Hsu noted Canada will spend close to $1B on security for the Vancouver Games, while "American eyes also will be scanning the land, sky and seas from south of the border." U.S. officials said that their security presence for the Games "will be understated and in support of Canadian forces," but the Games "will nevertheless mark the largest-ever test of North American security coordination for a major border event." U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) said, "In terms of hosting the Games, they are Canada's Games. But the fact of the matter is security of the Games has to extend beyond the Canadian border" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/23).

    Canadian Government Gives Priority Access To
    Olympic Tickets To Politicians, Bureaucrats
    PLAYING POLITICS: In Vancouver, Jeff Lee reported Canada's federal government is "using its access to Olympic tickets to give priority to politicians, bureaucrats and others who will get some of the best seats in the house during" the Games. Of the "nearly 1,500 tickets that the government has received, more than half will go to MPs, senators and bureaucrats who were able to put in their own orders in advance of the public." Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said that "more than half of the $447,000 spent on the tickets will be recovered from MPs and senators who have to pay out of their own pocket." Lee noted both the federal and provincial governments "insist taxpayers are only paying for tickets used to advance government agendas, not for anyone merely to have a good time" (VANCOUVER SUN, 1/24).

    RED HOT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Reed Albergotti wrote Canadians are "clamoring to get their fingers inside commemorative red mittens before the Olympics." Some of the proceeds from sales of the mittens, which are sold by Hudson's Bay Co. and retail for C$10, are "going to benefit Canadian athletics and training programs." They are "so popular they're out of stock on the retailer's Web site, as well as Vancouver2010.com" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/26).

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