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Seven years of “meticulous planning come to a spectacular climax” Friday night when the Olympic flame completes its 8,000-mile journey through the U.K. and “the eyes of the world turn to London” for the Opening Ceremony, according to Ashling O’Connor of the LONDON TIMES. The US$42M “visual feast conceived by Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director, will set the tone for the Games during the next 17 days and try to evoke the essence of Britishness, as the world’s biggest sports event comes to London for the third time since 1908.” LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said the Games were London’s “extraordinary journey,” and described its culmination as “the largest broadcast moment that this country will ever have experienced.” Crowds turned out Thursday “in huge numbers” as the torch “took a grand tour of London’s most historic sights.” LOCOG organizers said that they “could ‘live with’ the forecast drizzle or sporadic showers, but that driving rain could disrupt” the Opening Ceremony (LONDON TIMES, 7/27). In London, Robin Scott-Elliot notes the Opening Ceremony is expected to “be performed in front of a full house in the Olympic Stadium.” A number of the “most expensive tickets for the four-hour-long ceremony remain on sale but organisers will look to ensure any seats not sold will be occupied.” A LOCOG spokesperson on Thursday said, "We are confident there will not be any empty seats tomorrow” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/27).
ALL HAIL THE (UNITED) KINGDOM: U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday visited the Olympic Park and said, “Seven years of waiting, planning, building and dreaming are almost over. We want this to be the Games that lifts up a city, that lifts up our country and that lifts up our world, bringing people together.” He added, “This is a time of some economic difficulty for the UK but look at what we are capable of achieving as a nation even at a difficult economic time. This is not a London Games, this is not an England Games, this a United Kingdom Games” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/27). London Mayor Boris Johnson said, “The stadium is ready, the velodrome is ready, the aquatic centre is ready, the transport system is running brilliantly” (LONDON TIMES, 7/27). Johnson: "It is our chance to show the world what we are all about, our chance to throw a great party” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/27). More Johnson: "It is unbelievable to watch people who are normally very cynical, very sceptical types getting caught up. It is like a benign sort of virus” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/27).
LIGHT MY FIRE: Johnson said that so far 3.9 million people in London alone "had watched the Olympic torch on its journey to the main stadium in Stratford, east London.” He said that the audience “has exceeded all expectations.” The GUARDIAN’s James Meikle notes city authorities originally “had expected about 1.5 million.” Johnson said even "hard-bitten" members of his own family were "agog" (GUARDIAN, 7/27). The GUARDIAN’s Alexandra Topping notes the Olympic torch relay was “celebrated with a sun-drenched pop concert in front of 80,000 fans at London's Hyde Park on Thursday night, after the flame was carried past some of the capital's most famous landmarks.” In front of a “Coca-Cola-branded audience who raised their bright red ‘beat pads’ in perfect colour-coordinated corporate harmony, the ebullient popsters Rizzle Kicks paid tribute to the 8,000 torchbearers who carried the flame, including Coca-Cola's ‘Future Flames,’ made up of community volunteers around the country” (GUARDIAN, 7/27).
SECURITY ISSUES: The AP’s Paisley Dodds notes security “jitters were being felt across the British capital on the eve of the London Olympics, with the biggest mall in Europe briefly evacuated Thursday and noticeable security changes in place at the Olympic Park.” Cameron said, "You can never provide a 100 percent guarantee but what I've seen, and what I've helped to coordinate is, I think, a fully joined-up effort that involves one of the best armed services anywhere in the world" (AP, 7/27). The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Roger Blitz notes the mood on Thursday was “also helped by signs that some feared logistical problems had so far failed to fully materialise.” What was expected to be “the busiest day in Heathrow airport’s history passed off smoothly, as fewer passengers than forecast arrived and departed, aided through terminals by a small army of volunteers.” In addition, traffic in central London was “not significantly affected by the introduction of designated lanes, as drivers again heeded warnings not to come into town” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/27).
DAWN OF A NEW DAY: A FINANCIAL TIMES’ editorial is written under the header, “Three Cheers For London’s Olympics.” The preparations for the London Olympics and Paralympics “have been truly Herculean” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/27). Former Chinese Olympic Committee General Secretary Wei Jizhong said, "With the background of the economic crisis in Europe, this Olympic Games will be limited by the budget. It will be an 'affordable' Olympics. It won't be an extravagance” (GUARDIAN, 7/27). In London, Tom Peck writes under the header, “New Olympic Games Chapters To Be Written In London” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/27). In Chicago, Phil Hersh writes these Games “should begin to write a story free of the preconceived global narrative that has accompanied all recent summer games.” The Olympic “center stage really should belong the entire time to the nearly 10,500 athletes competing in 26 sports, with the city's already well-known landmarks and history as set decoration” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/27).
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME: In Detroit, John Niyo writes if “any city truly is equipped with the kind of self-deprecation to pull this off -- throwing a $14 billion party fraught with security concerns amid a global economic crisis -- it's probably this one” (DETROIT NEWS, 7/27). In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes London is “about throwing the biggest party it can at a red-tag sales price.” The city will spend “about $15 billion” to put on the Games, compared to Beijing’s ’08 budget of “$44 billion” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/27). USA TODAY’s Kelly Whiteside in a front-page piece writes America’s “love affair with all things British should make the Games alluring for the U.S. sports fan” (USA TODAY, 7/27).
Former Great Britain Olympian Roger Bannister “emerged as the overwhelming favorite to light the Olympic Flame on Friday” during the Opening Ceremony, according to Martin Rogers of YAHOO SPORTS. Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile, was "originally considered a long-shot candidate to perform the honor, but now seems likely to take pride of place at the Opening Ceremony” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/27). USA TODAY’s Jon Saraceno notes boxing legend and former Olympian Muhammad Ali, who lit the flame at the '96 Atlanta Games, will attend the Opening Ceremony “but will not be officially involved” (USA TODAY, 7/27).
SNEAK PEAK: In London, Gordon Rayner notes the BBC Thursday was “allowed to broadcast a 30-second clip of the ceremony, featuring modern dance and actors wearing illuminated wings, the first officially-sanctioned preview of the show.” However, those who had been at the rehearsals said that the clips “gave little or no impression of the inventiveness and ambition" London Games Creative Dir Danny Boyle has shown in "tackling the world’s biggest live broadcast event” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/27). The PA’s David Mercer noted rehearsal footage of the Opening Ceremony was removed from YouTube on Thursday as organisers "stepped up efforts to keep details of Friday's eagerly awaited curtain-raiser under wraps” (PA, 7/26). The GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson notes the Opening Ceremony will begin at 9:00pm local time with “the ringing of the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, which hangs at one end" of the stadium. Preceding the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony will be a warm-up show, “chiefly designed to get the crowd in the mood” (GUARDIAN, 7/27). Boyle stressed that the ceremony “will take viewers on a sweeping journey through Britain’s history, one that captures the nation’s identity, values, heritage, as well as its present and future” (AP, 7/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Cassell Bryan-Low notes Boyle hopes to “make his show warmer, humorous and more inclusive, including areas of the set where members of the public will be able to stand” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/27).
SILENCE IS GOLDEN: In Chicago, Philip Hersh notes it is unresolved “whether there will be a spontaneous commemoration by spectators and athletes when the Israeli team enters the stadium” to mark the 40th anniversary of the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the ’72 Munich Games (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/27). USOC CEO Scott Blackmun at a news conference Thursday said that U.S. athletes are “on their own on the issue” of observing a moment of silence (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/27). USA TODAY’s Christine Brennan writes the IOC “would rather forget about the tragedy than commemorate it.” The Opening Ceremony is “exactly the place to remember that awful moment in Olympic history” (USA TODAY, 7/27). The AP’s Jim Litke wrote, “A minute of silence carved out of a three-hour opening ceremony is not too much to ask” (AP, 7/26).
NBC's Bob Costas has indicated he plans on mentioning during the net's coverage of the London Games Opening Ceremony the IOC denied Israel's request for a moment of silence to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the tragedy at the '72 Munich Games, and NBC London Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell said Thursday that he "feels comfortable with whatever his anchor might say," according to Jordan Zakarin of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Bell said, "If there is anybody who knows how to handle himself in that situation, and have the right approach and tone, it's Bob and Matt (Lauer)." Bell did say that he had not talked to Costas before Costas "announced his intention to voice his displeasure with the IOC's decision." Bell "demured from calling Costas' intended moment of silence an official NBC plan." However, he said, "I know we're going to handle it appropriately and respectfully, and Bob as he always has, has a big role in our planning of the coverage, and it's been a healthy, collaborative process. ... It will be a measured and balanced approach with the proper tone for that moment." Bell did admit he "doesn't want the protest to overshadow what should be a mammoth event" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/26). Bell stressed that even though NBC "has a multi-billion dollar relationship with the IOC, it won’t shy away from criticizing the organization." He said, "We have a good relationship with the IOC. But we will cover the Olympics as we want to cover them" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 7/26). Meanwhile, Bell said Thursday that actors Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor will "narrate 'a five-minute teaser' that will open the coverage of the opening ceremony." Bell said, "It's pretty breathtaking ... it will give you a sense of the flavor of our coverage and the feeling we are all having going into these games" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 7/27).
KUDOS TO COSTAS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Costas "has a powerful electronic pulpit to preach from." The whole world, or "at least a huge American audience, is waiting to hear what he has to say." The fact that Costas is "taking to one of the biggest stages in sports to speak up for something he believes in should not be taken lightly" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/27). In Philadelphia, Stu Bykofsky writes Costas "deserves praise, as does NBC, because some people, lacking the decency gene, might complain that Costas will 'politicize' the Olympics." Bykofsky: "Actually, he will redeem them" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/27).
ALL OLYMPICS, ALL THE TIME: In Boston, Chad Finn notes NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus is "faced with the enormous challenge of drawing high ratings and critical raves from the 5,535 hours of coverage the network will provide." Four years ago in Beijing, which "had a more amenable 12-hour difference, 215 million Americans tuned in." Matching that number is "unlikely in London, something Lazarus acknowledges." He said, "We are not measuring ourselves against Beijing." But Finn notes there is "no doubt Lazarus’s first Olympics as the man in charge at NBC will be measured against the Games that came before on the network" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/27). In Miami, Barry Jackson writes "no undertaking in television history rivals NBC Universal’s Olympic coverage that starts Friday across 10 platforms, including six TV networks." The numbers "are staggering," and the tonnage "dwarfs NBC Universal’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by nearly 2,000 hours" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/27). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes, "Like a savvy butcher, the network finally learned to use all parts of the pig" (USA TODAY, 7/27).
A CHANCE FOR NBC: The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Raissman writes when it "comes to watching the Olympics on TV, 'spirit,' is limited to one country -- the USA." If NBC "confines its focus to American athletes the better the chance the ratings will go through the roof," especially for the primetime broadcast. That is where the "big-ticket advertisers roam," and if NBC "wants them back -- and paying major dough -- for the next Olympics it's best to deliver bigtime ratings." That even means possibly "going overboard with the USA-USA shtick." Raissman asks, "Wouldn't a telecast reflecting the true Olympic spirit put as much emphasis on competitors from other countries as NBC will put on American Olympians?" Lazarus said, "The best stories are going to rise to the top, but we will have a decidedly American flair with the athletes and stars people know" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/27). Meanwhile, in California, John Maffei writes there is "no doubt NBC will do a superb job sending the Games back to the U.S. on its five networks." But NBC also will "bombard American viewers with promos for its fall prime-time lineup -- a lineup that has taken a beating the last couple of years." Maffei: "Be ready for tireless promotions for new shows and old favorits like 'Today.' ... Clearly NBC's Olympic coverage will be about sports. But the subliminal message is about promotion" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 7/27).
GET CONNECTED: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Todd Spangler noted Comcast in order to promote mobile access to Games coverage will "provide free access to several thousand of MSO-operated Wi-Fi hotspots along the East Coast" during the Olympis. Both Comcast's Xfinity Internet customers and non-customers "will be able to log in to the hotspots, which are dotted along across and outdoor public locations throughout the greater Philadelphia area and its suburbs in addition to areas of New Jersey and Delaware." Comcast has "reciprocal Wi-Fi agreements with operators including Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems, which allow broadband subscribers of the respective MSOs to log in to each other's Wi-Fi networks." Non-Comcast hotspots "are not part of the free Wi-Fi promotion for the Olympics" (MULTICHANNELNEWS.com, 7/25).
NBC News has a crew of 450 people, including 25 reporters and its lead anchorman, Brian Williams, in London for the Olympics, and while the net claims covering the event is “such an inherently compelling story that its massive commitment is justified,” critics “see another agenda,” according to Paul Farhi of the WASHINGTON POST. In this scenario, what constitutes “news” seems to “depend on not just who’s playing, but also who’s paying.” ESPN sent “just two reporters to London, plus a handful of blogger-commentators,” while ABC News is “fielding an on-air team of five.” CBS News and Fox News both are “relying on their London bureaus, which have two correspondents apiece.” The differing approaches to covering the Games “may provide an illustration of the forces that sometimes shape the TV-news agenda.” Critics suggest that much of NBC News' Olympic coverage “is driven not by newsworthiness, but by corporate synergy, in which the news division generates stories to heighten interest in NBC’s prime-time Olympic telecasts.” NBC’s rivals indicated that they will “cover Olympic stories as events warrant.” ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Mike Leber: “We’ll neither ignore them nor turn over our entire programming schedule to them.” Farhi notes rival news organizations “privately admit their enthusiasm for Olympic stories is tempered by the fact that the Games are being shown by another network.” They said that too much coverage “could drive their viewers to NBC” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/27). NBC’s “Nightly News” and CBS' "Evening News" both led Thursday's episode with the fallout from Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comments on whether London was ready to host the Olympics. The Romney story aired second on ABC's "World News." NBC also featured a report on the progress of the Olympic torch, ABC’s “World News” aired a report on the science of becoming an Olympic athlete and what the Opening Ceremony could look like (THE DAILY).
THIS IS "TODAY": Anticipation for the Opening Ceremony and the start of the London Games dominated Friday's broadcast of NBC's "Today" show. The broadcast began with co-hosts Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales setting the tone and feel of London, with Big Ben chiming for three minutes to signify the first official day of the Games. Michelle Kosinski reported on the Olympic torch’s progress along the Thames River, as it “has been a real point of excitement for people.” The first hour also contained a preview of the Opening Ceremony, a report on the rivalry between U.S. swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, a live interview with David Beckham, a look at Olympic venues and a display of the Olympic medals. The second hour led with a live interview with the U.S. women’s field hockey team. There also were live interviews with First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. triathlete Hunter Kemper along with Olympic mascot Wenlock, former U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson and Phelps’ mother and sisters. A taped interview with the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in the second hour was followed by a live interview with the mothers of gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. Live interviews with U.S. boxers Queen Underwood and Marlen Esparza and the U.S. women’s shooting team were among the highlights from the third hour. Meanwhile, ABC’s "GMA" included Bill Weir previewing the Opening Ceremony, while Julie Foudy examined the Lochte-Phelps rivalry and expectations for U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin. "CBS This Morning" featured an interview with Michelle Obama from London (THE DAILY).
The CBC, a non-rights holder for Olympic Games coverage, held an interview via Skype with Canadian Olympic Team Chef d' Mission Mark Tewksbury at the Athlete's Village, but the decision "led to a complaint from CTV about CBC infringing on the rights paid for by the CTV/Rogers consortium" to cover the Games, according to Bruce Dowbiggin of the GLOBE & MAIL. While it "seems innocuous to outsiders where the interview subject is located, under IOC rules Tewksbury has to be offsite to talk to non rights holders -- even by Skype." CBC, which has "long held Olympic rights and knows the protocol, described it as a mistake typical of the beginning of a Games" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/27). Meanwhile, the GLOBE & MAIL's Steve Ladurantaye notes for BCE Inc., the Games "are a critical test of the company’s two-year, multibillion-dollar makeover and its 'watch anywhere' strategy." The company is "using London as its stepping-out party for this plan, with which it hopes to steal thousands of customers from its rivals." It will offer "about 1,100 hours of the games to wireless subscribers." By the time the Olympic flame "is extinguished, its executives will have a much better idea of how many Canadians actually want to watch television on their phones, and whether BCE’s wireless network is up to the task" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/27).
ONLY GAME IN TOWN: In London, Giles Smith writes for British television networks, there is "only one view in town at the moment, and competition for that view seems to have been keen." Most news operations "appear to have leased at least 30 feet of Stratford-facing window frontage" for the duration of the Olympics. Even Sky Sports News, "which has no official role to play as a broadcaster of the Games, has secured a glazed cubby hole." Early impressions "are that BBC Sport is hogging the square-on view, from an apartment with a rosewood floor" (LONDON TIMES, 7/27). Meanwhile, the GUARDIAN's John Plunkett notes Great Britain's women's soccer team's 1-0 win over New Zealand "in the first event of the 2012 Games peaked with 2.5 million viewers on BBC1 on Wednesday afternoon." The BBC's coverage between 3:30pm and 6:00pm local time "averaged 1.6 million viewers, a 17.5% share of all viewing in the timeslot" (GUARDIAN, 7/27).
An ad from the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA “has been pulled off YouTube at the request of the International Olympic Committee on copyright violation grounds, and the group has voluntarily taken the ad offline and will not be running it on television,” according to Rachel Weiner of the WASHINGTON POST. The ad used footage of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney from the ‘02 Salt Lake City Games’ Opening Ceremony “to suggest that the former Massachusetts governor loves sending jobs and money to other countries.” Romney was President & CEO of the organizing committee for the '02 Games. The USOC is “asking that Games footage not be used in any political ads.” The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future “has been planning an ad campaign during the Games that might have also used footage from Olympic events” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/26). YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel noted Priorities USA had “planned to run the ad in four battleground states.” Showing footage from an Opening Ceremony, a narrator in the spot said, "Welcome to the Olympics. There's Mitt Romney, who ran the Salt Lake City Games, waving to … China -- home to a billion people. Thousands owe their jobs to Mitt Romney's companies. India, which also gained jobs thanks to Romney, an outsourcing pioneer. And Burma, where Romney had the uniforms made for the 2002 games” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/26).
UPBEAT PLEA MAY BE IGNORED: AD AGE’s Elizabeth Wilner noted NBC Sports execs “urged presidential hopefuls to stay upbeat during the Summer Olympics, arguing that Americans don't want to see grainy footage and grim statistics bracketing medal ceremonies.” But the idea that an “air war that has been totally negative for weeks would suddenly break out in harp music is fantasy.” Wilner: “We may see some of the most memorable ads of 2012 during the games, but they won't all be positive” (ADAGE.com, 7/26).
Hilton has agreed in principal to renew its sponsorship of the USOC, a move that will see it extend its deal as the official family of hotels for Team USA through '16. Sources said the company agreed to a new deal shortly before the London Games. The deal has not been signed. The USOC declined to comment. A Hilton spokesperson said the company was in active discussions with the USOC and hopes to continue the longstanding relationship. Hilton has been a USOC sponsor since '05. Its last deal, which covered the '09-12 quadrennial, was valued at approximately $10M overall in value-in-kind support, but the company's return as a sponsor was not guaranteed. Last year, it signed on to sponsor the Chinese Olympic Committee. That deal gives Hilton rights to tickets and hospitality at the Olympics, which it can use as hospitality for customers and its hotel owners. That made the USOC agreement less necessary than it had previously been. Had the hotel walked away from its deal, the USOC could have turned to Marriott as a potential replacement. Marriott has shown an interest in the Olympics during the last two years, signing sponsorships with USA Swimming and USA Hockey. When Hilton renewed its current deal in '08, the company's then Senior VP/Brand Management Jeffrey Diskin said that internal research found a 50% increase among people who preferred, recommended, trusted and stayed in Hilton hotels because of the company's Olympic relationship. He added that bookings on Hilton websites connected to national governing bodies like USA Gymnastics provided a good return-on-investment for the hotel chain. Hilton works with The Marketing Arm on its Olympic sponsorships.
MORE FOR 24 HOUR FITNESS: 24 Hour Fitness has renewed its USOC sponsorship, extending its position as the official fitness center of Team USA through '16. The company first signed on as a USOC partner in '03. It historically was categorized as a USOC supplier, the organization’s third sponsorship tier, which is worth anywhere from $3-10M over four years. 24 Hour Fitness has seen a strong return on its investment over the last four years, CEO Carl Liebert said. In surveys, potential customers said they were 15-20% more likely to choose 24 Hour Fitness over its competitors because of its Team USA affiliation.
Harper’s Bazaar Exec Fashion & Beauty Editor Avril Graham discussed the fashion worn by all the Olympians at the London Games. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said, “The truth is, what the athletes wear does matter.” The British team “is taking a leaf out of Kate Middleton’s book,” as they are “going to the High Street retailer.” They have a “very understated look that they’re going to have for the Opening Ceremony,” but there is a “bit of gossip saying there might be a little bit of bling in the jackets.” Graham noted Cedella Marley, the daughter of late singer Bob Marley, designed some of the sportswear for the Jamaican team, and there will be the “colors of the Jamaican flag” and a “slight touch of military, too, which is fab." Graham: "Usain Bolt is going to look quite gorgeous walking in tonight.” Meanwhile, some members of the Spanish team “don't love” the design of their outfits. Graham: “It's a Russian designer. It’s a very sort of blingy red color. There's a bit of controversy in Spain because they do have fabulous designers in Spain. I think it cost a little bit less for the team outfits by going to a foreign designer” (“Today,” NBC, 7/27).
SOCIAL STUDIES: USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz reports the question for sponsors entering the London Games is whether the "enormous amount of time and money that Olympic marketers are pouring into social media a brilliant investment -- or a gigantic waste," and the answer is "yes -- to both.” IOC TOP sponsor P&G Global Marketing & Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard is “making an astonishing projection: Social media will account for roughly half its impressions.” Pritchard said, “We have evidence that our social-media space provides a better return than TV.” Horovitz noted getting folks to use Facebook or Twitter to “focus on brands -- instead of athletes -- may be an Olympian task.” Brand consultant Martin Lindstrom said that while social-media activity for Olympic sponsors “might be enormously successful in terms of hits or likes, people suppress the brand name if the brand doesn't have a natural fit with the social-media activity.” Coca-Cola Senior VP/Integrated Marketing Wendy Clark said that the company can “supply ‘share-worthy’ content that gives young adults ‘cred’ in their social media circles.” Clark: “The numbers have passed the skeptics at this point” (USA TODAY, 7/27).
HAPPY MEALS? In London, Richard Gillis reports former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair has “welcomed the presence of Coca-Cola and McDonald's as sponsors of London 2012.” Blair said that he sees “no conflict between the platform given to the fast food and soft drinks giants and the aim of improving the nation's health.” Blair said, “Sport and diet are an important part of that. But I think, everything in its proper place and everything in moderation. I have no problem with McDonald's and Coke being sponsors here” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/27). USA TODAY’s Horovitz notes McDonald’s Olympic menu may be its “most diverse ever -- from Spicy Veggie Wraps to organic milk.” Horovitz: “But critics say McDonald’s is fooling no one. Even the London Assembly recently passed a motion calling for a sports sponsorship ban on fast-food companies such as McDonald’s and soft-drink makers such as Coca-Cola” (USA TODAY, 7/27).
PANTS PARTY: The PA reports the IOC has “denied that anti-ambush marketing checks will include examining athletes' underwear for logos belonging to unofficial sponsors.” Competitors will be fined "if they drop their shorts to display them.” In June, Denmark F Nicklas Bendtner was fined US$125,445 by UEFA and “banned for a game after he exposed underpants" bearing the name of bookmaker Paddy Power during Euro 2012. IOC Coordination Commissioner Chair Denis Oswald said that spectators “should not worry about wearing clothing emblazoned with company names, or football tops bearing club sponsor logos” (PA, 7/27).
Many Olympic athletes "tend to fade from the public eye once their competitive days are over," but U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps "could be different," according to Jack Lambert of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Phelps has "international appeal that could lead to fame and sponsorship dollars worldwide." He is "comfortable in the limelight, having appeared in national advertising campaigns since he was 19." Phelps' Olympic success "very well could take him wherever he wants." Illinois-based Q Sports Marketing President Patrick Quinn said that Phelps could "easily pluck the 'low-hanging fruit' of becoming a corporate speaker." Athletes of Phelps' "stature typically receive between $30,000 and $50,000 for corporate speaking engagements." Quinn said that he will also "be able to fall back on numerous endorsements." Phelps has "made millions from endorsement contracts with Subway, Proctor & Gamble, Under Armour and Speedo, among others." Quinn added that most Olympic athletes "lose endorsements once they stop competing." But Phelps' status "as the top swimmer ever means companies will still seek him out after his retirement." Quinn said, "While this sort of thing is never easy, trying to do it for someone who is the best ever is a whole lot easier than it is for most athletes." Baltimore-based sports agent Ron Shapiro said that the "best thing" Phelps could do post-retirement "is form an advisory board of business associates to help sift through commercial and investment offers." Shapiro said that Phelps "seems to be off to a good start in the business world." He founded the "Michael Phelps Swim School in 2009 with longtime coach Bob Bowman and has licensed locations in Baltimore; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Rochester, N.Y." He also "created the Michael Phelps Foundation in 2008 to promote swimming and water safety" (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/27 issue).
PICTURE PERFECT? The “official Olympic headshot” of Phelps, which depicts him looking disheveled with a scraggly beard and no expression, was discussed on ESPN’s “PTI” earlier in the week. ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said it “looks like he crawled out of a cave.” Kornheiser: “I am told you’re not allowed to smile in these shots for your official headshot. Honestly, would you have him endorse any particular product? The guy shows up looking like that?” He added, “Not all of us sell Subway sandwiches, so he’s got to think about what he’s going to look like” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/24). CBS' Jim Rome said he wants Phelps “to freshen up because he showed up for his official Olympic headshot with a big ole’ bedhead.” Rome: “The face of the Olympic Games shouldn’t have the lettuce of a frat boy who just rolled off the futon” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 7/24).
RYAN'S SONG: Phelps' main competition this year could be fellow U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, who Tuesday was “Today’s Athlete To Watch” on the NBC morning show. NBC's Matt Lauer noted while other swimmers have "grabbed the spotlight in past Olympic Games, this could be the year he takes center stage.” Lauer told Lochte, “You’re seen as a terrific competitor in the pool and a little bit more of a free-spirit out of the pool. Fair assessment?” Lochte replied, “Oh yes.” Lauer: “One way Ryan expresses that free spirit is his unique sense of style, from colorful Speedos to outrageous sneakers he helped design and of course, his now infamous diamond mouthpiece first revealed at a medal ceremony.” Lochte said the diamond “grill” during the London Games “will come back” (“Today,” NBC, 7/24).
NBA Commissioner David Stern is “in no hurry to reach a conclusion on whether this will be the last Olympics for NBA players of all ages or whether men's players 23-and-under will compete in future Olympics,” according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. Stern Thursday said, "Nothing is definitive. All we're talking about is the issue, having taken stock 20 years after Barcelona. What is the best way to continue the growth of the game on a global basis?” He added, "This is not an urgent issue. This is just an opportunity to have an intelligent conversation with our friends at FIBA." Zillgitt notes the NBA and WNBA have “obvious influence on the Olympics, which is not lost on Stern.” A record 38 NBA players and 16 former NBA players “are scheduled to play” in the London Games. Stern: "You are seeing the influence of our game and the magnet it has become on a global basis" (USA TODAY, 7/27). A USA TODAY editorial states, “For all the money the NBA stars make, and all the reasons they have to be jaded, they still get a thrill out of the Olympics. Good for them. And us” (USA TODAY, 7/27).
RE-LIVING THE DREAM: MEDIA POST’s Karl Greenberg noted the U.S. men’s basketball team has the “biggest-ever portfolio of partners.” Several of the team's sponsors are using the 20th anniversary of the '92 Dream Team “as a soapbox for their narrative: special retail promotions, broadcast features, and grassroots tours." Involved in the campaigns are 11 current or former USA Basketball players, including Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Chauncey Billups. The “retrospective hagiography includes Right Guard's role as presenting sponsor of NBA TV’s documentary ‘The Dream Team’; Burger King's commemorative cup series covering USA hoops teams past; Sunkist Soda and 7UP's collectible cans that pair 1992 Dream Team players with soda brands; and MetroPCS' 15-city USA Basketball Dream Tour, which launched in January.” Player tie-ins from this year's team include Williams "partnering with MetroPCS brand advertising and promotions for Samsung Mobile, plus appearances and social media; Carmelo Anthony's support of the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign ‘My After’ … and Jeep brand's spotlight on Chris Paul as its spokesman for its partnership with USA Basketball.” Other efforts include AmEx' "six-vignette video effort featuring actor Michael Rapaport and Chauncey Billups discussing key moments in USA Basketball history” (MEDIAPOST.com, 7/25).
The AP’s Tom Withers noted the arena hosting the “preliminary round of basketball at the London Games, its mammoth steel frame covered by recycled white PVC fabric, is a 12,000-seat temporary facility built for these games -- and beyond.” Erected in “less than 18 months, it will be dismantled afterward and could reappear for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.” Stuart Buss, the venue’s Deputy Media Manager, said, "I suppose it's like something you might get from Ikea. You can pack it up and reuse it. It's been cleverly designed so you can put it up quite quickly and take it back down" (AP, 7/26).
PURPLE & LIME: The AP’s Steven Wine wrote the Wimbledon grounds have "never been so colorful.” The Games’ tennis tournament “will be unlike any before at Wimbledon, a gold medalist when it comes to tradition.” From one end of the grounds “to the other, the club's distinctive dark green has given way to patches of Olympic purple and lime green.” The colors “even adorn the building that houses the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum” (AP, 7/26).
LIGHT AS A FEATHER: POPULAR SCIENCE’s Tim Newcomb noted Olympic Stadium is the “lightest, most flexible and most sustainable ever built.” Populous' Tom Jones, whose firm designed the venue, said, "The agenda for London 2012 was very much looking at pushing forward environmental design and sustainable approaches to major stadiums. The drive was to construct a small, compact, lightweight stadium" (POPSCI.com, 7/26).
TALKING BUSINESS: In London, Roland Watson notes U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday opened “Business Olympics” talks and took questions “from 200 chief executives.” Cameron said the event was “the biggest business summit any British government has ever hosted.” The U.K. government is “aiming to secure” an extra US$1.6B “of investment in the coming year.” Cameron on Friday was expected to welcome “a high-powered Chinese delegation to Downing Street” (LONDON TIMES, 7/27).
Each day during the Summer Games, THE DAILY offers our take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.MEDALMEDALISTGOLD: TORCH RELAY ORGANIZERS -- Four years after the Beijing Torch Relay was overshadowed by protests and criticism, the IOC and LOCOG decided to limit the relay to the U.K. They added Ireland later at IOC member Pat Hickey's request. The relay went off without incident or complaint, and the crowds in London this week have been large and enthusiastic.
SILVER: TITLE IX -- On the 40th anniversary of Title IX, its successes are certainly evident on the U.S. Olympic team in London. For the first time ever there are more U.S. women competing in the Games than men, not to mention just as many top story lines, if not more. And the U.S. flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony is Mariel Zagunis, a fencer who credited Title IX for the honor. BRONZE: MCDONALD'S -- The two-all-beef-patties magnet countered criticism in the British press of its food options by offering healthy menu items in its Olympic restaurants, led by its signature Happy Meal. It also pointed to its "Champions of Play" program for kids that promotes exercise and healthy eating. TIN: MITT ROMNEY -- The former head of the '02 Salt Lake City Games and current Presidential candidate put his foot in his mouth when he questioned the London Games before they have even started, citing security and labor concerns. He apologized later, but a former head of an Olympic organizing committee should know better.
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:
Spanish officials say they're going to press on with their '20 Olympics bid despite economic troubles. Brazil launches int’l campaign called "The World Meets In Brazil” to promote the '14 FIFA World Cup and '16 Rio de Janeiro Games. The German Olympic team has a "lot of catching-up to do in regards of social media usage," as only a small number of its athletes are utilizing the platform. Footage from the final rehearsal of Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony made its way to YouTube despite director's plea not to spoil the surprise.