SBD/August 8, 2012/Olympics

BMW's Minis Raise Concerns About Sponsors Activating In Games Venues

The Minis are being used to shuttle javelins, discus and hammers back to athletes
The small, remote-controlled versions of Mini cars “whizzing around” Olympic Stadium to shuttle javelins, discus and hammers back to the athletes "have triggered branding questions at what are strictly ad-free Olympic venues at the London Games," according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. The Minis, made by IOC TOP sponsor BMW, "may not carry visible logos but are instantly recognisable for what they are." IOC TV & Marketing Services Dir Timo Lumme said there was "no commercial reason" behind choosing Minis as transporters for the athletes' equipment. Since the start of the track & field competitions last week, the Minis have "instantly become a point of discussion." Their use inside the stadium has raised questions of "whether the IOC was indirectly relaxing its own strict ad rules" (REUTERS, 8/7). The AP’s Rob Harris noted BMW's sponsorship of the London Games is “worth $63 million, including the cost of providing vehicles.” Rule 50 of the IOC charter states "commercial installations and advertising signs shall not be allowed in the stadia." IOC TOP sponsor Omega “has its logo on clocks in venues, but BMW has specifically used its Mini for a task that could have been carried out by a generic vehicle.” BMW U.K. Corporate Communications Dir Graham Biggs insisted that the rules “are being adhered to." But Harris wrote BMW's “canny use of Minis highlights the challenge sponsors face at the Olympics to secure a return on their investment when exposure is heavily restricted by the IOC” (AP, 8/7).

SUPPLY & DEMAND: In London, Shekhar Bhatia noted Olympic organizers have admitted that they have brought on "too many unpaid volunteers for the Games." They have been “astonished” by the low demand from VIPs for volunteer-chauffeured cars. So few of the BMWs are being used that many of the 9,000 drivers "have been left twiddling their thumbs for large parts of their 10-hour shifts." Many volunteers are now being given days off, "so they can fill empty seats in venues and enjoy the sporting action" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/7).
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Olympics, BMW Inc.

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