• Catching Up With: Coca-Cola marketing executive Scott McCune

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    Coca-Cola's Scott McCune says the company's "Move to the Beat" Olympic marketing campaign has been successful worldwide.
    Scott McCune, Coca-Cola’s vice president, worldwide sports, entertainment and media, hadn’t attended a sports event five days into the Olympics. He was busy managing the company’s marketing in and around London; hosting Coke’s board, which flew in for the Olympics; tracking the company’s hospitality; and meeting with the International Olympic Committee. Despite his busy schedule, he has been closely monitoring the Games and last week sat down with staff writer Tripp Mickle to share his impressions.

    How are organizers doing so far?

    MCCUNE: They’re doing well. As always with an Olympics at the beginning, there were bumps on traffic and ticketing. I think the ticketing (empty-seat issue) is blown out of proportion. Not having been in a venue but watching on television, it’s primarily the press and IOC section where you see empty seats.

    What does the IOC need to do to get a handle on Olympic tickets? It’s a recurring issue.

    MCCUNE: We have so many things going on that I haven’t focused on the IOC.

    How much angst did that create for sponsors when the first allegations were directed at them?

    MCCUNE: We don’t like it when we get blamed for something when we don’t do anything wrong. We screw up enough things that we can be blamed for that we don’t like to be blamed for other people’s stuff. But people have to remember this is a culmination of 18 months of marketing in (Great Britain), and some countries a year of marketing, and in most countries at least six months of marketing.

    McCune and ignition vice president Amanda Daniels during the Olympic Torch Relay, which Coke sponsored.
    What markets are responding most positively to Coca-Cola’s “Move to the Beat” Olympic marketing so far?

    MCCUNE: You name it. I was at an event before the opening ceremony at the China House. Our China team was with the Chinese Olympic Committee celebrating the 200 million beats (songs created by visitors) that were uploaded (on Coca-Cola’s website) as part of the campaign. All of our major markets have taken the campaign and leveraged it, from the U.S. to Canada to Japan to Mexico.

    You expressed concern in the spring that the Olympics aren’t appealing to youth. Are these Olympics doing anything to address that?

    MCCUNE: One of the things we’re doing in partnership with the IOC is our marketing campaign is targeted to youth. We don’t have the results yet, but we’re seeing youth interact with our content. Our content is not Olympic content. It’s around the social side of things. It’s not the sport side of things.

    What’s different about these Games from past ones you’ve attended?

    MCCUNE: The venue of London. Because it was London it gave us the platform to focus on youth. Think about it. Most of the youth around the world, and I’m generalizing, have a very positive image of London, so if we can bring London to them and what Usain Bolt is mixing in the Athletes Village. Have you been in the Athletes Village? We actually have a beat studio with our athletes in there mixing their own beats.

    You all faced some criticism before these Games along with McDonald’s for contributing to rising obesity. That was the first time I can recall that. Is that something we’ll see more in the future?

    MCCUNE: No. We met with the IOC this past week. … They’re proud to have us as a partner. It’s just educating them on our products.

  • FIBA not necessarily on board for Olympic basketball age limit

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    Patrick Baumann, FIBA secretary general
    USA Basketball can limit its team to players under the age of 23, as NBA Commissioner David Stern recently proposed, but don’t expect the rest of the world to follow suit any time soon.

    Patrick Baumann, secretary general of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), said that he will meet with Stern about the idea to get more details before bringing it to FIBA’s 200-plus members for approval.

    “When, whether, what age — I’m not sure they have a clear mind on that,” Baumann said. “USA Basketball may make up its own mind about whether they want to come with youngsters here. That could be their choice. There is going to be a lot of debate. … Every idea is welcome.”

    The 23-year-old age limit that Stern proposed has become the most-discussed, off-court issue during the Olympics.

    Kobe Bryant has gone on record as being against an age limit for the Olympic team.
    Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was first to raise the idea and has been highly critical of NBA players playing in the Olympics, saying it does nothing but increase the International Olympic Committee’s sponsorship and media rights fees. Kobe Bryant disagreed, saying two weeks ago that players should have a right to decide whether or not they want to play for their country.

    Baumann said that creating an age limit would hurt countries like Nigeria, which is still developing the game. He added that FIBA wouldn’t make a decision on the subject any time soon.

    The subject likely will become one of several issues the NBA and FIBA work through in the coming years.

    Baumann said FIBA is unhappy with the lack of international basketball exhibitions and qualifiers that are played each year. He’d prefer a similar system to soccer, which sets aside a few weekends of every year for players to leave their professional clubs and play in national team games.

    “I don’t think there have been official games of USA Basketball in the United States qualifying for somewhere,” said Baumann, who is from Switzerland and also is a member of the IOC. “I don’t remember since 1993, the German fans haven’t seen the German national team playing in Germany. Our members have an issue with that.”

    The NBA also has asked for a share of commercial revenues from FIBA’s Basketball World Cup. Both groups want to turn the event, which will be held in 2017 or 2019, into a global property that rivals soccer’s World Cup in size and significance.

    If it doesn’t get a share of revenues from the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the NBA could follow in the footsteps of the NHL, which launched its own international hockey competition in 2005 without the blessing of its international federation.

    “Everybody’s free to organize a tournament,” Baumann said. “Whether the rest of the world will participate is their choice. If (the NBA is) to distribute billions and billions, then maybe they might participate. If it’s to retain all the benefits for themselves, my guess is the rest of the world won’t participate.”

    In May, FIBA created a separate commercial arm called FIBA Media & Marketing Services. Baumann hired two executives behind the creation of UEFA’s Champions League to run it: Frank Leenders and Thomas Klooz. The company will develop, manage and deliver all of FIBA’s media, marketing and events, and will work on its Basketball World Cup.

    The World Cup historically has been held two years after the Olympics, which means it happens the same summer as FIFA’s World Cup. Baumann said that the organization wants to avoid competing with FIFA for media and public attention, so it will move its event to either 2017 or 2019.

    “We want to be out of the shadow of the FIFA World Cup,” Baumann said. “The biggest properties of the world deserve their own year, and we are one of the biggest properties.”

  • Traffic increases at the USOC’s revamped, homey USA House

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    One wall of USA House features a 20-by-10-foot photo of Team USA from the opening ceremony.
    Lisa Reliford, the USOC’s new director of meeting and event services, replaced longtime event coordinator Jerri Foehrkolb after the 2010 Vancouver Games, and she’s added some of her own touches to the organization’s hospitality center and home-away-from-home during the London Games.

    For the first time, the USOC printed the photos hanging in the house on canvas and framed them. That means it will be able to roll up and take the wall-sized, 20-foot-long by 10-foot-tall photo of Team USA walking in the opening ceremony back to the U.S. The photograph has been autographed by more than 50 Olympians and the organization plans to hang it in one of its training centers to inspire future athletes.

    USOC Chairman Larry Probst (left) talks with boxer Evander Holyfield at the house.
    The organization also set up a display in the USA House lobby with medals and Olympic torches from the first two London Games, in 1908 and 1948, and the three U.S. Summer Games (Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984, and Atlanta in 1996).

    “I thought it would be nice to celebrate the hometown and our hometown as well,” Reliford said during a tour of the hospitality center this week.

    Traffic at USA House is up considerably from 2008. The house is located in an area of London populated by a lot of U.S. expatriates, and hospitality demand for most of the USOC’s sponsors is up from four years ago. It is hosting more than 1,000 people a day, double what the organization has records for from the Beijing Games. During the 17 days of the London Games, USA house will host more than 100 meetings and events.

    Serena Williams is one of more than 50 athletes who have signed the wall.

    As for the house itself, for the most part USA House sticks to the formula that the USOC has developed and continuously improved upon since it began doing Olympic hospitality for sponsors, athletes and Olympic organizations at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

    The facility occupies 32,000 square feet of a college building adjacent to Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington. Though it is 10,000 square feet smaller than the 2008 USA House in Beijing, it feels bigger because both its upstairs and downstairs rooms are large and open.

    The main room is a huge open space with couches, a bar, a buffet and dozens of Panasonic TVs tuned to the Olympic Broadcasting System’s main feed. There are two decks with TVs and a downstairs area with two Deloitte conference rooms, two rooms for private functions and a theater that sponsors can use for speaking events.

    USOC sponsors are showcased throughout the venue. Chobani has a refrigerator filled with its yogurt; coffee is served in McDonald’s McCafé cups; TD Ameritrade has a stock ticker; Acer has four desktops for people to work on; BP has an ad on a canvas screen in the main lobby; Bud branded one of the decks and has a bar on it; the other deck is presented by Coca-Cola and has black chairs with red cushions; Samsung and AT&T have phone- and tablet-charging stations; and United and DeVry each branded the downstairs rooms for private functions.

  • Olympic icon Summer Sanders rides new ‘mommy marketing’ wave

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    Summer Sanders has found marketing success 20 years after her Olympic swimming success.
    Summer Sanders’ calendar in London has been packed. She was at the P&G Family Home for a Duracell event, on a double-decker bus for a Kellogg’s media tour and poolside for many of USA Swimming’s 30 medals.

    “I’m a worker,” Sanders said.

    Sanders, who won four medals as a swimmer in the 1992 Olympics, is having her best year since she left the pool. She has signed six deals over the last year, adding endorsements with Duracell, Kellogg’s, USA Swimming, Visa, General Electric and Speedo.

    “It’s timing,” said Sanders, who is represented by CAA. “With age comes a better understanding of who you are and how you present yourself.”

    Sanders, 39, has benefited from the rise in Olympic sponsors’ marketing targeted to mothers. She is married to an Olympian, former skier Erik Schlopy, and has a 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. She joined the growing ranks of “mommy bloggers” four years ago and writes regularly about juggling her work schedule and kids. In addition to her endorsement portfolio, she’s a TV host for Pac-12 Networks.

    During a night session at the London Aquatic Centre on Friday, Sanders pulled out a notebook she updates daily with things to add to the blog and points at an entry of the things she plans to post to her website, summersanders.net.

    “I brought the kids here for swimming (last Thursday) and got here before I remembered I forgot my two tickets,” she said. “We’d walked 22 minutes and had to turn around and go back.”

    Such candor online has made her a perfect fit for the growing list of Olympic brands trying to appeal to moms. Since former worldwide Olympic sponsor Johnson & Johnson first developed a digital campaign in 2008 thanking mothers for supporting athletes, P&G, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola have developed advertising that targets mom consumers.

    “Beyond her golden Olympic credentials, Summer is an experienced commentator and public speaker who brings enthusiasm to every appearance,” said Stassi Anastassov, president of Duracell for P&G. “Duracell could not have found a better, long-lasting Copper correspondent.”

    Several of her new sponsors have included Sanders’ children in their campaigns. Kellogg’s came to her house and shot a digital video with her talking about how she starts her day. Schwinn, a long-standing endorser, filmed an ad with Sanders and her daughter, Skye.

    Sanders is humored by the number of sponsors she has amassed this year. When she swam for the U.S. team in 1992, she only had two sponsors, Speedo and Powerade. It was difficult for her to earn money on endorsements, so she transitioned to television and became an on-air commentator for NBC’s Olympics coverage in 1996.

    “A lot of (the work) has to do with being a mom,” she said. “I’m as imperfect as anyone else as a parent, which is different from being seen as perfect as an athlete.”

    CAA’s Lowell Taub, who has represented Sanders for years, said that they want to replicate the success they’ve enjoyed before the London Games four years from now when the Olympics go to Rio.

    But for now, Sanders is focused on her new job as a host on the Pac-12 Networks. Her true passion is TV, and after years of working on “NBA Inside Stuff,” the former Stanford swimmer is excited about working on college sports.

  • TOP sponsor McDonald’s gets rare Olympic access after years of talks

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    McDonald's program aims to give children access to Olympic venues for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
    The boy closed one eye and tried to balance an arrow on his left hand. He squinted as he pulled back the string of a bow. Then he let go and watched as the arrow floated toward a target 20 feet away and sank into the ground in front of it.

    Wiremu Knowles failed to hit the target, but it didn’t matter. The 6-year-old Australian was at the tail end of three of the most incredible days of his life at the Olympics, and he was having a great time. He even got to hold the silver medal won by the U.S. archery team.

    It was all part of a new program developed by International Olympic Committee TOP sponsor McDonald’s for the London Games. The company brought more than 200 children to the Olympics and, for the first time, worked out unprecedented access to take them behind the scenes so that they could try archery at Lord’s Cricket Ground and play beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade.

    The ability to walk along the fields of competition did not come easy, as the program was four years in the making. John Lewicki, McDonald’s head of global alliances, began asking the IOC in 2008 to expand the restaurant company’s sponsorship assets so that it could provide a unique experience for kids at the Olympics.

    It was modeled after an activation the company had used successfully during its sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup. As part of that deal, it is able to have 1,400 children from around the world walk onto the field with soccer players before matches. It allowed them to promote an active lifestyle, reward customers and create brand ambassadors for life.

    But the company was never able to translate those similar rights to its IOC deal. McDonald’s brought a few hundred children to the Beijing Games in 2008, and while it took them to several events and tourist sites such as the Great Wall, none of them were able to step on the field of play or meet many athletes.

    “Quite honestly, anyone could do that,” said Lewicki, whose company is spending $100 million from 2009 to 2012 as an official IOC sponsor. “You didn’t have to be a sponsor, so we started asking how can we make this better.”

    McDonald’s global sports marketing executive Brian Goldstein started talking with the IOC about a variety of ideas. Could children escort the flag bearers in the opening and closing ceremony? Could they escort dignitaries in the medal ceremony presentation? Could they bring children onto the swim deck or volleyball court and let them meet athletes or play the sports?

    A child takes a shot at archery at Lord's Cricket Ground.
    The last proposal got the most traction, but wasn’t easy to pull off. The IOC was reluctant. It runs clean venues that are free of sponsors, so bringing children wearing McDonald’s shirts onto the field of play created some discomfort. Plus, local organizing committees are focused on keeping venues secure during the Games. But the property and sponsor eventually worked out an agreement.

    The IOC didn’t rewrite its McDonald’s contract to include the right to bring children into venues, but the IOC worked with the London Olympic organizing committee to make sure McDonald’s got access.

    “There’s been a real shift as we integrated sponsor management inside the IOC,” said Timo Lumme, the IOC’s director of TV and marketing services. “We felt there was a lot more value we could add. We try to dimensionalize the relationship beyond just being the basic sponsorship.”

    Last week, McDonald’s brought the first of five waves of 50 children, each of whom can bring one parent, to London for its “Champions of Play” program. The initiative promotes active living and is central to McDonald’s effort to combat public perception that it contributes to rising obesity.

    Each child was selected from their host region. Australians like Knowles were selected after writing an essay about teamwork or overcoming a challenge in sports. A local TV station showed up at their homes to let them know they had won.

    Over three days in London, they walked on the swim deck at the aquatic center, visited Lord’s Cricket Ground and stood where Olympic archers would later fire arrows, and spent an hour playing beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade. In most cases, the visits took place on the day of competition.

    Their trip ended with Olympians — U.S. swimmer Dara Torres, U.S. speedskater Joey Cheek and Italian canoer Antonio Rossi — giving each child a medal.

    Lewicki said the London Games program is a great step forward in McDonald’s Olympic sponsorship.

    “Now we move forward to Sochi and Rio and look at how we can fine-tune it and make it better,” he added.

  • Catching Up With: Dermot Boden, Citi’s chief brand officer

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    Citi Chief Brand Officer Dermot Boden was born in Dublin but moved to London at the age of 4. When he travels around London, he sees the city where he grew up from a different vantage point from most U.S. sponsor executives. He talked to us about how the city was managing the Olympics so far.

    Citi's Dermot Boden
    Having grown up here, what are your impressions?

    BODEN: I’m a slightly confused Irelander, but I was privileged to grow up here. I really love this country. I was in tears (during the opening ceremony). I’m very proud of what London delivered and achieved. The country is going through a rough time right now, but you wouldn’t sense it from the atmosphere and the attitude of people. I’m very proud London’s hosting its third Games. I thought (during the opening ceremony) we saw the British humor is self-effacing and how edgy, impactful and self-deprecating it is. They’ve done a very good job of inculcating (the Olympics) through the city.

    What impressed you the most?

    BODEN: For the first time in history, the flame left the host country, once it arrived in the country, to go to another. It went to Dublin. That’s incredible.

    What are you looking forward to?

    BODEN: I’m looking forward to seeing Wimbledon. You get so used to the way the whole thing is managed. It will be interesting, the sacred grass on the center court with people in non-white. It will be interesting to see the subtle branding that’s there for Rolex and others removed.

    What is your impression of the reinvention of east London as an Olympic Park?

    BODEN: I said to someone last night there would be little chance of going out there when I lived here. Everything I hear is that there’s a sense they’ve figured out how to manage (the venues) going forward. I am a West Ham United fan. They may take the ground forward. That would be very impressive. The stadium looks great. It seems like a re-energized area. It’s been a tough area. We hope for the best. I hope it isn’t the white elephant that we’ve seen in other cities.

    When it comes to legacy, what are you anticipating it will be?

    BODEN: The legacy of the Games for Citi is that I hope we have really connected, we’ve connected our brand in a way that people feel like is genuine in supporting people on their journey from ambition to achievement. The legacy of the Games itself is what Lord Coe expressed: inspiring a generation. If through this Games we get people more interested in sport and the optimism of the opportunity of having a dream and aspiring to get there and getting there is a very proud legacy.

  • NBCOlympics.com passes 1 billion page views for London Games

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    NBCOlympics.com has surpassed 1 billion page views across its computer, mobile and tablet platforms, including the “NBC Olympics” and “NBC Olympics Live Extra” apps. Total page views are at 1.1 billion with six days remaining in the London Games, just behind the total of 1.2 billion views for the entire 2008 Beijing Games. Total video streams are at 102.6 million, 147 percent more than Beijing through the same period. Total hours streamed are at 13.2 million, 121 percent more than the comparable period in Beijing. U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas is the “most-clicked” athlete with 18.27 million views.

  • BMW finds creative way to market its Mini inside Olympic stadium

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    BMW has worked a mini version of its Mini into the Olympic competition.
    The inside of Olympic venues are supposed to be clean, void of any marketing and advertising. For years, the only sponsor to get exposure was official timekeeper Omega.

    But BMW has found a way to join that shortlist.

    The automaker, the official automotive partner of London 2012, developed miniature, radio-controlled versions of its Mini that cruise around during track and field, retrieving shot puts, javelins, discuses and hammers, and returning them to the throwing area.

    The battery-powered car can carry a hammer, discus, shot put or two javelins.
    It’s the second time this Olympics that BMW has integrated its product into an event. The company also had a Mini drive into the opening ceremony on the first night of the Games.

    The miniature cars are a quarter the size of a regular Mini and they were made in Oxford, England. They can carry a single hammer, discus, shot put or two javelins.

    BMW says that the miniature Minis working track and field this week will cover 6,500 yards a day. Each one is battery powered and can operate continuously for 35 minutes.

  • Podcast From A Pub: Mickle chats with Chris Welton, CEO of Helios

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    Mickle (left) along with Chris Welton, CEO of Helios
    Media reporter John Ourand returned to the U.S. last week, but Olympics writer Tripp Mickle is still on the ground in London. So for the latest edition of “Podcast from a Pub,” he pulled in a new media ringer — Chris Welton, CEO of the Atlanta-based strategic marketing agency Helios.

    Welton, who formerly ran the IOC’s marketing at Meridian, is attending his 12th Olympics. The two met at the Audley, a traditional, 130-year-old British pub owned by Russians in London’s posh Mayfair neighborhood. They talked over pints while everyone around them watched Andy Murray thump Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Among the topics:

    Getting tickets to events: “You’ve seen some press about empty seats in the officials’ stands, but in terms of public attendance, everything is full.”

    What grade should the Games receive so far: “I give them an A. There have been some mistakes … but those are small.”

    On merchandising: “They’re leaving money on the table.”

  • NBC's overnight rating up 2% following Bolt's victory on Sunday

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    NBC earned a 19.5 overnight Nielsen rating for prime-time Olympics coverage Sunday night, which included taped coverage of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s victory in the men’s 100 meters. That figure is up 2 percent from a 19.1 overnight on the same night four years ago in Beijing.

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