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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday “defended his decision to deliver the games to London,” maintaining that the event “will be value for money as austerity hits other public projects,” according to Rob Harris of the AP. Blair helped deliver the Olympics, landing England a project with a US$14.4B bill “taxpayers had to foot.” Blair said, “Even though it's a lot of money, 9 billion pounds, we have regenerated a whole part of the East End of London.” He added, “If you were to pose the question to (fellow bidders) Paris or Madrid or New York ... 'Would you prefer to be putting on the Olympics right now?' I'm sure they would say 'Yes.'” Blair described the games as “an opportunity to showcase modern Britain, modern London” to the world. He said, “The important thing for us … is to use the Olympics to build a legacy in the country” (AP, 7/25). Current Prime Minister David Cameron said, “This is a great moment for us. Let’s seize it.” He called the eve of the Games “a truly momentous day for our country” (BBC News, 7/26). In a special to the LONDON TIMES, U.K.-based economist Kevin Daly writes the management and cost-effectiveness of the Games preparation “has been a success.” There will be “a lasting impact on the local community in Stratford from regenerating a run-down part of East London.” For the next three weeks, U.K. Trade & Investment is “opening its doors to the world’s business leaders, capitalizing on their presence at the Games.” In previous Olympics, where the preparations “have gone well and costs have been controlled, there has been a lasting positive economic legacy.” The government’s projection that the US$13.3B investment will yield US$20.4B is “likely to be an underestimate” (LONDON TIMES, 7/26).
ARCHITECTURE GETS ATTENTION: The AP’s Gregory Katz reviews the stadiums and infrastructure around the Games and notes some architects and architectural critics “have been skeptical, calling the look and feel ho-hum." But the "final touches -- the landscaping in particular -- seems to have won many over.” The Olympic Stadium already has “garnered some awards and been shortlisted for the prestigious Roy Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize.” Building Design magazine critic Oliver Wainwright said, “Long term it will be very valuable.” Architectural firm CZWG Partner Piers Gough: “Initially I thought the park was a bit harsh, a bit Eastern bloc, but the landscaping has really brought it together and made it luscious. The way it has so many levels and goes down to the rivers and the canals has been very clever and make a great Olympics site. I’m impressed” (AP, 7/26). In London, James Lawton writes the hope is that “indeed a neglected section of a great city will have a new sense of itself and a swagger that comes when you are a part of great events.” Lawton: “And that we can say, yes, maybe it was worth it” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/26). Also in London, Robin Scott-Elliot writes, "The Games of the XXX Olympiad will be alright. They may even be better than that. The construction process was smooth and within budget." The 80,000-seat main stadium's future "may be far from settled but it is a worth arena for an Olympic Games" (London INDEPENDENT, 7/26).
MY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE: Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said there were "disconcerting" signs about England's readiness. Romney: "It's hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting: the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging." Romney also “questioned the enthusiasm of the British public.” Romney: "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/26). In Miami, Linda Robertson writes, “Londoners regard the Olympics the way they regard the royal family. Some are proud of the monarchy. Some abide it. Others dismiss it as a waste of time and money. But they are coming around” (MIAMI HERALD, 7/26).
BUBBLING WITH EXCITEMENT: In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes under the header, “Jolly Old England Stays Upbeat As Olympics Near.” England is “so full of joy to see everyone that the country is positively fizzy” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/26). In Boston, Shira Springer writes under the header, “London Embracing The Olympiad.” Springer notes with fewer that “48 hours until the London Games officially begin, the host city is embracing the Olympic experience.” Excitement “is building, albeit tempered by the practical concerns of some Londoners” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/26). However, in Vancouver, Cam Cole writes the mood in London is “one of mild apprehension percolating in a culture of chronic skepticism” (VANCOUVER SUN, 7/26). In Denver, Mark Kiszla notes everything from the "response of people on the streets to the simple, functional design of the Olympic Park is understated." A survey indicated that "barely 50 percent of the local population is truly excited about the Games, as opposed to Vancouver, where every citizen made it a personal mission visitors had a good time" (DENVER POST, 7/26).
Great Britain swimmers have confirmed that they will join team “athletes, track cyclists and rowers in missing Friday night's opening ceremony at the Olympic stadium in east London,” according to Booth & Gibson of the GUARDIAN. Team Great Britain has previously estimated that around “half of the 541-strong team will not attend.” The British team is the last to enter the Olympic Stadium, at “what is expected to be close to midnight, and that was a factor in the decision.” British swimmer James Goddard said, "It's a long day, there's a lot of walking involved, a party atmosphere I suppose.” The British Olympic Association yesterday said that sporting performance “must come first.” BOA Dir of Communications & Olympic Media Strategy Darryl Seibel said, "Some of the largest teams in our delegation won't be participating. It is up to each team, and within each team, it is up to each athlete to make the choice. We are not going to compel anyone” (GUARDIAN, 7/26). In Sydney, Tim Barrow reports almost half of Australia's Olympians are expected to skip the Opening Ceremony “to focus on their preparations.” Australian field hockey player Casey Eastham said that the team “had decided not to attend because of an early morning training session the following day.” Barrow notes only a “handful of sailors will make the three-hour trek from the official competition venue to London, while the Australian swimming team have a general rule in place where those competing in the first three days of the Olympics will not attend.” The rowing squad will also “not join the parade” (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/26).
BOYLE-ING POINT: London Games Creative Dir Danny Boyle, who is directing the Opening Ceremony, said of the show, "Nothing can prepare you for the scale.” NBC's Meredith Vieira notes there will be an estimated global audience of more than 1 billion "tuning in for a show that has been two years in the making." The world “watched in awe at the spectacle China created” four years ago in Beijing, and to say the Opening Ceremony "bar has been set high is an understatement.” Vieira said to Boyle when the Beijing Opening Ceremony "was over, I thought to myself, ‘You’d have to be crazy to try to follow this.’" Boyle: "If you view it a different way, it’s a wonderful way to start again. Beijing was beyond compare. It was on a scale that is unimaginable I think almost anywhere else in the world at the moment. So you go, ‘Fine. All hail Beijing. That’s the peak.’ We're very grateful to Beijing that it brought to an absolute climax the scale of these Opening Ceremonies.” Vieira notes that is not to say Boyle "doesn't have a few tricks up his sleeve." He said, "We're trying to do a live film. ... The way you experience it on television will feel -- I hope -- much more immediate and visceral than you normally get. They’ll be more close-ups, for instance, which is a way of conveying emotion" (“Today,” NBC, 7/26). CBS' Jim Rome said Boyle is "going to push the envelope” with the event. Rome: "Normally the highlight of any Opening Ceremonies is seeing the NBA players walk in, but not this time. In fact, I might have to watch this with a kidney pie and tankard of ale” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 7/25).
GETTING READY FOR THE SHOW: The AFP’s Robin Millard cited “thrilled audience members," who got a sneak peek at the final rehearsal for tomorrow's Opening Ceremony that said that the event will be “a spine-tingling extravaganza that exceeds expectations.” The “60,000-odd crowd seemed filled with enthusiasm as they flooded out of the Olympic Stadium late Wednesday” (AFP, 7/25). NBC's Ryan Seacrest said he attended the rehearsal and “to see what they put together -- the choreography -- I’m anxious to get going” ("Today," NBC, 7/26). However, SI’s Michael Farber writes athletes “used to be the centerpiece” of the Opening Ceremony, but now they serve as “extras in their own show, time fillers until the host nation marches in.” The Olympians “endure an hour or more of extravagance as the ceremony reduces the host country to stereotype in a showy infomercial that often veers into self-parody.” The original Games had “cultural and artistic components, but now we have one night of culture and art on steroids” (SI, 7/30 issue). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said the Opening Ceremony “is longer than the Oscars” and it is “longer than it should be” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/25).
MOMENT OF SILENCE: REUTERS’ Keith Weir noted President Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney have “both backed calls for a moment of silence” to honor the 11 Israeli team members killed at the ‘72 Munich Games (REUTERS, 7/25). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also wrote to IOC President Jacques Rogge to ask the organization to hold an "appropriate memorial event" in London for the victims (AP, 7/25). In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes during the Opening Ceremony there will be “shame that will surround Rogge as he speaks of the Olympic spirit while clearly violating it.” Plaschke: “Why can't the IOC just give them that one minute? It's politics, of course.” He continues, “The IOC's arrogance is tone-deaf to the point of being laughable” (L.A. TIMES, 7/26). YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote, “Perhaps Rogge just doesn’t want to dampen the mood. Perhaps, as the Israelis contend, he’s too scared of offending Arab countries. Maybe he’s just an aristocrat who takes himself and his role in the world far too seriously. None of it makes it right” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/25). In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes under the header, “IOC Is Stubbornly Offensive On Opening Ceremonies.” If ever there was “a reason for the often overused moment of silence, this is it.” Hamilton: “What an opportunity to send a message to the world about tolerance instead of hate. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?” By “refusing” to honor the athletes, the IOC “dishonors them” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/26). In Newark, Dave D’Alessandro wrote it is “time to stop treating this like a political statement, and call it for what it is: a solemn observance of the loss of 11 men” (NJ.com, 7/25). FOXSPORTS.com's Reid Forgrave wrotes the Opening Ceremony is a "time for joy and celebration, yet that did not keep the IOC from using that event to honor a luger from Georgia who was killed during a practice run before the 2010 Winter Games" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/25).
LOCOG yesterday “suffered major embarrassment” after North Korea initially refused to play its women's soccer match against Colombia after “the South Korean flag was shown on the Hampden Park big screens alongside the North Korean team lineup,” according to Ewan Murray of the GUARDIAN. The match was scheduled for 7:45pm local time. The North Korea team "did not restart their warmup until just before 8:30pm, after the flag was replaced with the correct one on the scoreboards following extensive negotiations behind the scenes” (GUARDIAN, 7/26). LOCOG “took the blame” for the mistake, and in a statement said, “We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.” The AP’s Frank Griffiths writes, “The statement, however, included another gaffe: It failed to refer to the countries by their official Olympic names, causing organizers to reissue the statement using ‘Republic of Korea’ and ‘Democratic People's Republic of Korea.’” IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams “pointed” to LOCOG for the handling of the issue and said, “It’s a matter for the organizers” (AP, 7/26). LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said the mistake was due to “simple human error.” Deighton: “We made a mistake, it is as simple as that. It wasn’t a real flag, it was a flag on a video graphic. We have taken steps to make sure that absolutely can’t happen again. We spent a lot of time with them last night explaining what had happened and why it happened and we have written a letter to them” (LONDON TIMES, 7/26).
A MATTER OF PRIDE: In London, Tom Peck writes it was a “simple mistake for a scoreboard operator to make,” but there is “history between” North and South Korea. They have “been at war since the 1950s” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/26). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Matthew Futterman writes under the header, “North Korea Outraged Over Flag Flub” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/26). The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Warrell, Groom, Odell & Blitz note the Games “got off to an inauspicious start” with the flag mix-up (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/26).
STARTING WITH A WHIMPER: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Matthew Engel writes, “It was bizarre enough that the organisers of the greatest show on earth chose to start not with a bang ... but women’s football.” The Olympics “saw a kind of explosion Wednesday night: an international incident, self-inflicted, and of an almost unimaginably embarrassing nature.” The Games “began with stuff that people did not want to watch” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/26). In London, Matt Dickinson writes, “Football is an awkward fit at the Olympic Games and there were signs all around to prove it. There were not just swaths of empty seats at the Millennium Stadium yesterday, but as many as 10,000 ticket-holders who had not shown up to watch the Great Britain women make their victorious debut” (LONDON TIMES, 7/26). The GUARDIAN’s Murray notes an attendance of 15,000 "was given for USA's win over France yesterday at Hampden Park -- more than double that number of free tickets had been distributed” (GUARDIAN, 7/26). SI's Grant Wahl wrote on his Twitter account, "Given small crowds, should have played Olympic soccer in mid-sized stadiums in/near London. Let the players feel like they're at Olympics" (TWITTER.com, 7/25). However, LOCOG claims to have sold 1.6 million tickets for the men’s and women’s soccer tournaments, and 500,000 are still available." LOCOG Communications Chair Jackie Brock-Doyle said that the sales “exceed the 1.4 million sold" at Euro 2012. More tickets have been “sold for soccer than any other sports -- largely because of the size of the venues” (AP, 7/25).
Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou yesterday was “kicked off the team” for posting a tweet that was deemed to be racist, according to a front-page piece by Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY. Papachristou wrote, “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!" Papachristou's ban had reminded athletes "to be thoughtful before tweeting." U.S. fencer Tim Morehouse said, “We’re finding our way. I’m very conscientious of what I’m putting on Twitter and Facebook. When you hear stories like that, you’re sort of learning the line of what you can present and what you can’t.” Whiteside notes when the U.S. athletes arrived at the Olympic Village, they were “reminded about the International Olympic Committee’s social media guidelines” (USA TODAY, 7/26). USA TODAY’s Mike Lopresti in a sports section cover story wrote Papachristou was “the first Twitter casualty of the Summer Games.” Decision-makers “usually feel compelled to show no mercy when everyone is watching, and they didn’t here” (USA TODAY, 7/26). However, in Orlando, Shannon Owens wrote instead of “banning and dismissing, a greater good can be accomplished by allowing this to become a teachable moment” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/25).
SOCIAL GAMES: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Emily Steel notes there is a “new wave of athletic endorsements, where a star’s presence on Twitter, Facebook and the like factors into which athletes marketers choose to sponsor.” Several of those relationships “are taking centre stage” during the London Games. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt “recently posted a photo of a refrigerator filled with Gatorade sports drink to his 620,000 Twitter followers,” while U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps “mentions Visa, Head & Shoulders shampoo, and Hilton Hotels amid the training updates he shares with his 5.4m Facebook fans.” CAA Global Dir of Sports Endorsements Lowell Taub said, “With almost every single deal that my group puts together, sponsors ask, ‘Can you tell me about the athlete’s social media footprint, how many Twitter followers do they have? How many Facebook fans? Will they do some tweets for the campaign?'” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/26).
POTENTIAL THREAT? In London, Chris Parsons writes high-profile Olympic athletes “are sparking potential terror alerts by posting pictures of their official Olympic Village passes on Twitter.” Several competitors have “caused security headaches by tweeting high resolution images of their LOCOG accreditation,” and that has “raised fears that the barcodes -- which do not feature infra-red or microchip technology -- could be duplicated by fraudsters.” Threat management firm IPC believes the photos could be a “golden ticket” into Olympic venues for terrorists. Experts said that organized crime gangs and ticket touts “could also gain access to venues by duplicating the official LOCOG lanyards from Twitter.” U.S. women’s soccer MF Carli Lloyd “was among the first” to tweet her accreditation for the Olympic Village. IPC Head Will Geddes said, “What you've got here is a really stupid situation were athletes have been given important security documents and have [compromised] those documents by showing the information contained to all and sundry” (London DAILY MAIL, 7/26).
MOOD LIGHTING: In Newark, Dave D’Alessandro notes international design firm Sosolimited will “interpret the entire country’s mood about the upcoming Games by reading all their Twitter feeds, and then project their findings onto the most visible place in the city -- in the lights of the London Eye.” In other words, they have turned “the giant wheel into a national mood ring.” Sosolimited co-Founder John Rothenberg said, “The idea is to watch the energy of the nation, in real time.” The company has been working on this “since July 19th in conjunction with EDF Energy -- the French company that operates the lighting on the wheel.” Rothenberg said that the “happy mood (yellow) spiked the day Brit Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/26).
President Obama’s re-election campaign has “snapped up $6 million in Olympics air time, a national buy that includes at least one 30-second prime time spot per night,” according to sources cited by Anthony Crupi of ADWEEK. The first Obama ad will air tomorrow night during NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony. The buy “includes daytime and afternoon inventory.” The Obama buy also includes “as many as two dozen ads on the NBCU cable properties NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo.” Crupi noted the Romney campaign “has yet to make a national buy.” The Republican National Committee this week “picked up a run of prime time spots.” Meanwhile, the conservative Super PAC Restore Our Future has “bought $7.2 million worth of airtime in 11 states, with an eye toward running pro-Romney spots through August 9” (ADWEEK.com, 7/25). NBC yesterday announced it had surpassed $1B in ad sales for the Games (NBC).CHANGE OF TUNE: USA TODAY’s Bruce Horovitz reports Go Daddy has “created three slightly toned-down commercials to air 18 times on NBC during the London Games.” One ad features a “sexy model taking a bubble bath -- but it gives equal screen time to an IT geek who makes Go Daddy tick from the inside.” The other spots feature “sexy women, one stroking an otter, another sensually squashing berries.” Both also “star IT geeks.” The theme of the campaign is “beauty on the outside but brains on the inside.” The move is “a clear break from the emotional and patriotic-theme ads that many marketers air during the Olympics.” However, the “multi-million-dollar campaign represents Go Daddy’s first step in a delicate segue from a sexually titillating marketer to one that still winks at its past but focuses on its ability to help small businesses with their websites.” The ads do not feature NASCAR driver and Go Daddy spokesperson Danica Patrick, a regular in past Go Daddy spots. Go Daddy's previous Olympic involvement was limited to “one commercial one time” during the ’10 Vancouver Games (USA TODAY, 7/26).
APPEAL OVER THE POND: AD AGE’s Natalie Zmuda noted Vitaminwater is “looking to boost its international presence with its first Summer Olympics campaign.” The campaign, "Games, Only Better," will not run in the U.S., as it is “meant to drive trial and recruitment overseas, as well as raise overall brand awareness levels.” One-fifth of the brand's sales “come from outside the U.S.” Glaceau Global Brand Dir Eric Lewis, whose company produces Vitaminwater, said that the Olympics campaign was “built around the insight that a certain group of consumers is viewing the London games as a ‘big party with a sporting event in the middle.’" In keeping with that idea, the Glaceau Tasting Vehicle will be “making its way through the streets of London and setting up games such as oversized Jenga and Twister.” Outdoor ads feature taglines such as, "Long jump, only better" and "Archery, only better." The former “shows a couple jumping into a pristine lake, while the latter shows cupid aiming an arrow over London.” N.Y.-based agency Droga5 worked on the campaign (ADAGE.com, 7/25).
NBC yesterday launched its online and mobile streaming of Olympic events with the U.S.-France women's soccer game, and the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS' Charlie McCollum reviews the coverage. McCollum writes he watched the game "and a couple other soccer matches live on Wednesday morning through my home computer (a Mac), a borrowed iPad, my iPhone and my office computer (a standard PC)." The feed "was great on the iPad, very good on the Mac, clear and crisp (if small) on the iPhone and a bit jerky on my office PC." The "gadgets (ranging from replay to multiple screens) are cool although, as you might expect, the PC/Mac website has more of them than do the mobile devices." This is a "vast expansion of an experiment during the Vancouver Winter Olympics when the network streamed hockey and curling live on its website." McCollum writes, "Of course, how things will work when NBC starts streaming as many as 30 events at a time and millions of viewers have logged in remains to be seen." The service is free, "although you do need to sign up -- which is something you should do now before the Games really get going" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/26).
LIVE ON TAPE DELAY: In Baltimore, David Zurawik notes no Olympic events will "take place in London during prime time in the United States, which means the day's results will already be known" when NBC's telecast begins each night. NBC London Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell said, "We're going to handle that situation in both a traditional way and a new way. The old way ... involves classic storytelling techniques in prime time. The new way ... the exciting thing here is that we're streaming everything live." He added the new media strategy involves more than "just flipping a switch and putting things online." Bell said, "It's also about trying to be a little more creative with how we're handling tablets and mobile and the two-screen experience for people so that they can use their iPads, use their hand-held devises and get content, get information, find out more about these competitors or this venue or this town or this coach or team or foreign athlete they are suddenly taking an interest in" (BALTIMORE SUN, 7/26). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes few institutions "like to wrap themselves in the past as much as the modern Olympics, and the networks that pay many millions for exclusive broadcast rights love to invoke their long tradition." However, the Games and the broadcast partners "are no more immune to the pressures to adapt to modern realities than any enterprise." Holding back video is "as pointless as waiting for Pheidippides to arrive in Athens for the results of the Battle of Marathon when today the story would be available live online, on mobile phones and tablets as it happened" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/26).
PASSING THE BATON: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes starting with the Opening Ceremony tomorrow, it will be Bell's "turn to orchestrate NBC's coverage as if he has been doing it for years." His task is twofold, as he must replace former NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol and also show his bosses at Comcast that he "is the right person to entrust with producing the London Games and up to four more Olympics" through '20. While Bell "built his reputation as a sports producer, with lots of Olympic experience, he has been the executive producer of 'Today' for seven years." Bell "deflects questions about the impact of taking over from Ebersol." He said, "I realize there's a story there, but I don't think much about it. I'm thrilled to have spent so much time working with him" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/26). Bell was also profiled in the July 16 issue of SportsBusiness Journal.
IDOL WORSHIP: TV personality Ryan Seacrest is joining NBC's coverage of the Games, and he said he will be down on the field during the Opening Ceremony "after the Parade of Nations comes through, and I'll talk to some of our athletes live in the moment to get their reaction to what happened at the Opening Ceremony.” Seacrest said of the net's use of social media during the Olympics, “We’re looking for some of the breakout stories. We’re going to follow the trends. We’re going to follow the culture of 24/7 information, and I think that’s an important aspect of our coverage here at NBC” (“Today,” NBC, 7/26).
MADE IN THE USA: In Boston, Jill Radsken reports designer Joseph Abboud is “tasked with dressing the entire male sportscasting crew” for NBC’s broadcast of the London Games. He is also suiting up “Today” show host Matt Lauer and “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon. The NBC broadcasters covering the London Games “will be sporting ‘Made in USA’ labels, thanks to Abboud.” Abboud designed custom blazers “for all of the talent, each with a crest incorporating NBC, Olympic and Hickey Freeman logos.” Meanwhile, Abboud said of Ralph Lauren making Team USA uniforms in China, “This was an oversight they didn’t see coming” (BOSTON HERALD, 7/26).
IOC TOP sponsor P&G was not a sponsor of the '08 Beijing Games, which was the most-watched event in U.S. television history, but the company is "trying to capture those eyeballs this time around,” according to Mae Anderson of the AP. P&G has a corporate campaign “in addition to initiatives for 34 separate brands, ranging from Pampers to Duracell" during the London Games. Additionally, the company is "sponsoring more than 150 global athletes." P&G Global Marketing & Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard said, “It’s the largest multi-brand program we’ve ever done.” Anderson reported the company expects the campaign “to drive $500 million in sales,” which is much “larger than the $100 million in sales the company garnered from its campaign at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the first time P&G was an Olympic sponsor.” In the U.S., P&G’s corporate campaign kicked off in April with its first “Thank You, Mom” TV spot. It also has a dedicated “Thank You, Mom” Facebook page and app that allows people to send messages to their mothers. Many of the company’s “separate brands also have campaigns.” Pampers diaper brand “rolled out an ad in April showing babies climbing a chair as if it were an Olympic sport.” It is also “selling limited edition U.S.A. diapers and baby wipes in the U.S” (AP, 7/23).
SHARING IS CARING: Pritchard said that one in three people who watched the "Thank You, Mom” campaign shared it with others, making it one of the most shared videos of all time. The high rate of sharing for the commercial has contributed to 53 million people watching the company’s Olympic videos in 20 languages. P&G complemented the commercial with a series of short digital videos called "Raise an Olympian," which use moms and Olympians to narrate their journey to the Games. P&G’s activation on the ground in London will be limited to its Family Home. The company will open the home to 10,000 Olympic family members over the next few weeks, giving them a place to rest and eat during the Games. The home opened to Olympic families yesterday (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
Health campaigners are urging the IOC to “ban junk food and fizzy drink brands from future sporting sponsorship deals in a critical new report which says the committee has squandered the chance to create a positive health legacy from the London 2012 Games,” according to Rebecca Smithers of the GUARDIAN. The Obesity Games report, published by The Childrens' Food Campaign, found that corporate sponsorship “accounts for less than 10% of the total funding for the London 2012 Games, while fast food sponsors contribute only about 2% of the IOC income.” The report claims that major sponsors Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Cadbury are “given an unrivalled platform to promote their unhealthy brands and products.” The findings will “trigger fresh criticism of the stranglehold on food and drink at the Games held by sponsors” (GUARDIAN, 7/26). The report stated that the sponsors “ill-served taxpayers who are funding the majority of the [US$2.2B] budget and all the bill for increased costs of obesity on the health service.” Childrens' Food Campaign Coordinator Malcolm Clark said the IOC "could choose to cut out the top-tier category of food and soft drink partners entirely, and lose little more" than 2% of its total income (London INDEPENDENT, 7/26).
SOCIAL MEDIA TRACKER: Social Agility co-Founder Tony Burgess-Webb said that the company “uses more than 50 metrics to calculate the scores posted on its continuously updating London 2012 Social Media Scoreboard.” In Toronto, Morgan Campbell notes the company found that Coca-Cola, British Airways and adidas “have surged to the top of the social media medal table.” Companies gain points “for being active on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and for creating web pages specifically for their Olympic campaigns.” By yesterday afternoon Coca-Cola’s “score of 298 placed it atop the ‘Top Performers’ scale,” with employment agency Adecco “at the bottom” with a score of 15 (TORONTO STAR, 7/26).
CYBER SECURITY: In L.A., Ryan Faughnder notes Olympic security officials are “bracing for an onslaught of cyber assaults that could easily surpass the 12 million attacks a day, or 500,000 an hour, that were logged" during the ’08 Beijing Games. More than 3,500 IT engineers and technicians "have been assigned to monitor the Games' computer systems and networks.” IOC TOP sponsor Atos is “monitoring more than 11,000 computers and servers” from a deployment center (L.A. TIMES, 7/26).
SHIPPING SAMPLES: The GUARDIAN’s Neate & Gibson note there is a process to ensure Olympic athletes’ drug testing samples “are not tampered with during” the Games. UPS, which won the delivery rights to the Games, indicated that it had “the delivery of urine and blood samples ‘locked down to a very few’ highly trained drivers.” UPS has developed “its own information and communications technology to ensure that managers are alerted immediately if anything goes amiss in the delivery of the samples to the laboratory” (GUARDIAN, 7/26).
GET YOUR TOYS HERE! The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Alice Speri noted with 10,000 official items for sale, the London Games "offer the largest variety of Olympics paraphernalia ever.” LOCOG organizers hope to sell more than $1.55B of merchandise “from toys to egg cups.” Retail analysts “hate to dash any Olympic dreams, but they have their doubts.” Kantar Retail Insights Dir Bryan Roberts: "I'd be amazed if they got anywhere near that." Verdict Research estimates that the Games “will generate a total of [US$157M] in Olympics-related sales this quarter -- including official and unofficial products, as well as food.” LOCOG has said that merchandise sales of US$1.6B would result in US$125M “in profits and help balance its books” (WSJ.com, 7/25).
NOTES: Russian mobile phone operator MegaFon has selected GMR Marketing to assist with activations at the London Games. As the official mobile partner of the '14 Sochi Games, the company will have a presence at Russia Park in Perks Field and Sochi Park in Kensington Gardens (GMR)....The AP’s Rishi Lekhi reports “hundreds of survivors of the deadly 1984 Bhopal gas leak held a ‘Special Olympics’ on Thursday with children suffering birth defects in an effort to shame" LOCOG sponsor Dow Chemical (AP, 7/26).
In London, Paul Kelso writes under the header, “Match-Fixing And Gambling The New Threat In IOC's Battle Against Corruption.” IOC President Jacques Rogge “believes the issues represent the next big fight facing sports organisations and governments.” The IOC “has established a monitoring unit, with input from the Metropolitan Police and the UK Gambling Commission,” to tackle the threat. The group has been “in regular contact since July 16, and will start daily meetings from this weekend.” The Gambling Commission will “receive details of any suspicious betting patterns from the legitimate UK bookmakers it licences, while European and worldwide gambling trends will be monitored by ISM, a company retained by the IOC” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/26).
DOPERS CAUGHT: NBC News’ Kevin Tibbles reported WADA has already “banned more than 100” athletes from the London Games for testing positive for banned substances. The postitive tests were caught by a "new drug-testing program that screens their blood even before they leave home” ("Nightly News," NBC, 7/25).
TAKING OFFICE: The AP reported former British Olympic Association Chair Craig Reedie has been elected an IOC VP and former Badminton World Federation Head Nawal El Moutawakel was “elected unopposed to fill two vacancies.” El Moutawakel, who “four years ago became the first female from a Muslim nation voted on to the executive board, now becomes the first to reach the vice-presidency” (AP, 7/26).
GOING TO THE GALA: The AP’s Jill Lawless noted Muhammad Ali was “the star of a London charity gala Wednesday that set off the Olympic party season.” A ticket to the Sports for Peace fundraiser at the Victoria and Albert Museum “started at 2,500 pounds ($3,900) a head” (AP, 7/26).
SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal has launched a free website exclusively geared to the Summer Games that will feature news, video, blogs and much more from London. See the site today for the following news:
Meanwhile, see today’s issue of SBD Global for the following stories you may have missed:
FIFA President Sepp Blatter pledged to make available "all the resources its new investigators need to probe wrongdoing" at soccer's governing body. German Bundesliga's 18 teams earn up to $173M through shirt sponsorship deals. The French Football League has agreed to a four-year deal with YouTube which will give it rights to air segments of all Ligue 1 matches worldwide. A study by Ernst & Young revealed the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will result in a major impact on investments made in the country.