August 5, 2012 03:49 PM
Race directors from the five World Marathon Majors hosted more than 100 guests for a women’s marathon viewing party Sunday at a conference center near Blackfriars Bridge.
The race directors of the New York, Boston, Chicago, London and Berlin marathons started the World Marathon Majors in early 2006 as a way to generate publicity for marathon runners and give the top distance runners a financial reason to run in their races.Runners accumulate points at those five races over a two-year period, and the runner with the highest point total wins $500,000. Every four years, the Olympic marathon is added to the list of races that count for points.
Between short breaks to stand in the rain and watch the women’s marathoners run past, the race directors who gathered on Sunday said their collaboration had been successful not only in convincing elite athletes to run their races but also had other benefits that varied from race to race.
For example, ING New York City Marathon race director Mary Wittenberg said she was inspired to improve New York’s fundraising efforts after seeing what the Virgin London Marathon did. London has raised more than $71 million per race for charities. New York has increased its fundraising from $500,000 to $32 million since joining the majors in 2006, Wittenberg said.
The BMW Berlin Marathon has seen the number of international entrants to its race soar since it joined the World Marathon Majors. Mark Milde, Berlin’s race director, pointed to 700 Brazilians who are coming to its race in September. They are part of a group that has pushed the number of foreign runners in the race to more than 50 percent of total entrants.
“They went to New York, did that race and said, ‘Who else is in this series?’” Milde said. “It’s quite amazing.”
Chicago and Boston have shared best practices around their races in recent years. Boston this year reached out to Chicago for advice about how to handle temperatures that soared above 80 degrees this year. Chicago had to shut down its marathon in 2007 because temperatures were too high.
“We’ve been rivals in the past and we’re still competitive, but we’re able to share now,” said Carey Pinkowski, executive director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Wittenberg said the biggest upside of the marathons coming together is that it’s given them a more powerful voice in the international running community. She said that before 2006, the race organizers had no relationship with track and field’s international sports federation (IAAF).
“This has created a level of collaboration between our five races and the IAAF and brought together all of track and field and road racing,” Wittenberg said.
The World Marathon Majors will host another hospitality event at Blackfriars during the men’s race next Sunday.
August 5, 2012 01:54 PM
Michael Phelps retired from swimming after winning his 22nd Olympic medal Saturday night.
The organization is working to be sure that’s not the case with Michael Phelps, who retired Saturday night after winning his 22nd Olympic medal.
USA Swimming executives have spent almost a year talking to Phelps and his agent, Octagon’s Peter Carlisle, about keeping him involved with the organization in a formal capacity. They hope it will allow them to continue growing the sport over time.
“We want a playbook for the future,” said USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus. “Michael’s all for that. Peter’s all for that.
“I think Michael and USA Swimming will have a great relationship going forward … that will stand in stark contrast to the relationship USA Swimming had and Mark Spitz had a generation ago.”
Speaking the day after his final competitive swim, Phelps said he’s still committed to growing the sport of swimming. That’s been his career-long goal and a major reason that he signed certain deals like the $1 million bonus Speedo paid when he won eight gold medals and broke Spitz’s record in 2008.
“My competitive part of my career is over,” Phelps said while speaking at a Visa press conference Sunday. “It doesn’t mean I’m done with the sport. … I’m still going to go with my goal of trying to change the sport and take it to a new level. It hasn’t reached the peak that I want it to reach.”
Phelps, 27, has been a huge benefit to USA Swimming. He won 22 of the 89 medals the organization has collected during the last three Olympics, and that contributed to major increases in awareness for swimming. The sport’s ratings now surpass track and field on NBC during the Olympics, and USA Swimming has seen its membership swell from 232,000 in 2004 to 291,000 today.
“He’s been great for the sport,” Wielgus said.
There are challenges to keeping Phelps involved. The swimmer has launched his own non-profit, the Michael Phelps Foundation, which is focused on teaching kids to swim. That mission is similar to the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation, which means they could potentially compete for donations.
Then there are the basic demands on Phelps’ time, and the need to protect his image and make sure he’s being fairly compensated when it’s used. Phelps currently has sponsor obligations from a long list of companies — Visa, Omega, Under Armour, Hilton, Master Spas, Procter & Gamble, Subway, Speedo, Pure Sport and HP — and he reportedly earns more than $5 million a year on those deals (see related story).
Wielgus and Carlisle have talked about that and hope to work through it after the Games.
“We’re there in concept,” Wielgus said. “It’s a matter of working the details out.”
USA Swimming's SwimToday campaign
USA Swimming is looking to build on the 11 percent increase in membership it saw after the 2008 Games.
The organization is in the middle of a major marketing campaign called SwimToday, which is designed to encourage parents, kids and young people to swim.
It did a deal with Living Social, a digital coupon service, that offers discounted rates at local swim clubs. More than 1,200 people have bought the coupons in the last five days. The campaign will run through the fall.
USA Swimming also has seen a major increase in searches for its website. Searches have increased three-fold since the Olympic Trials.
August 5, 2012 08:34 AM
Coca-Cola's "Beatbox" in the Olympic Park
It starts and ends with music.
Early Wednesday morning, a half-dozen young adults decked out in bright red shirts branded with Coca-Cola’s logo made their way toward the Olympic Park singing loudly.
“Good morning! Good morning! Welcome to the Olympic Park! Good morning, good morning, to you!”
The group was dragging props in a suitcase and entering Olympic Park for another full day of singing, dancing and performing for the crowds of 150,000 that enter the park daily. The street team — or “Beat Collective,” as Coke calls them — was one of the company’s solutions to the first problem it ran into in developing its plans for the London Games.
“When we looked at the footprint we had (for our showcase in Olympic Park), it wasn’t big enough,” said Scott McCune, Coca-Cola vice president, worldwide media, sports and entertainment marketing. “Here, because of space limits, we couldn’t bring through as many people as we liked. That led us to think differently.”
Coke's "Beat Collective" perform each day for the crowds in Olympic Park and Hyde Park.
McCune said that the street teams have been a hit. Videos and photos of them are popping up on Facebook and Twitter.
“It’s difficult to quantify,” he added, “but the idea is to have consumers create content and share it with our brand.”
The street teams are only one small facet of what Coke did for this Olympics. It all began four years ago when the company’s marketing team saw the age of Olympic fans was rising. It wanted a way to use the Olympics to reach youth — its consumers of tomorrow — and it challenged its agencies to come up with an idea for that.
Mother, the U.K.’s largest independent advertising agency, threw out the idea of using music as a way to engage young people. London has a strong musical history with artists ranging from The Rolling Stones to Amy Winehouse getting their start there, and the agency wanted to fuse music together with sport to create a campaign.
Coke liked the idea and the company’s head of music, Joe Beliotti, called British producer Mark Ronson, who the brand had worked with before, to get his opinion. Ronson, who had worked with Winehouse and others, liked the idea and ultimately made a soundtrack using sounds he recorded from training sessions by a table tennis player, a hurdler, an archer, a sprinter and a taekwondo competitor.
The company took that music and tied it into its TV, digital and experiential campaign for the London Games. Its primary TV spot shows Ronson performing the song he made with the sounds from the sports. Online, people can watch video of Ronson recording the sounds and use the sounds to create their own “beat” or song.
The company also created Beat TV, a show that’s broadcast in partnership each night from London. It includes athlete interviews, musical guests and what’s going on around the city during the Games.
Ignition, an Atlanta-based marketing agency, brought the “Move to the Beat” concept to life on the ground in the U.K. The agency has run Coke’s Olympic torch relay program for years, but this year it created a “Beat Bus,” a giant red bus that proceeded the torch bearer, blaring music and sampling Coke.
The torch relay took 70 days and attracted crowds so large that it reached an estimated 70 percent of Britain’s 62 million people, McCune said.
In the "Beatbox," visitors can pay music by touching panels as they walk up a ramp.
COCA-COLA PHOTOS (2)
Two U.K. designers, Pernilla Ohrstedt, 30, and Ahsif Khan, 31, designed a circular structure, 120 feet in diameter. Its exterior is a series of sharply angled, red and white panels that make it look like a UFO from a distance.
Pernilla Ohrstedt (left) and Ahsif Khan designed the structure.
Multiple sensors at the top of the ramp blend the entire track Ronson made together so that visitors can hear it in its entirety. Afterward, they can get their photo taken holding an Olympic torch with the Olympic Stadium in the background. They’re given a plastic business card that they can swipe in a series of computers to send the photo to friends or post it on Facebook.
The entire experience culminates with a walk down a dark corridor inside the “Beatbox.” Visitors are given a commemorative Coke and then watch a dance and music show put on by one of the “Beat” collectives.
Incredibly peppy and upbeat guides punctuate the tour, saying things like, “Let’s go this way, guys, and join the celebration!”
Coca-Cola expects more than 200,000 visitors to tour the showcase during the Games.
Everything about the showcase and Coke’s activation in Europe is designed to appeal to young consumers. That’s why it focused on music. That’s why it selected teens to be Olympic torchbearers. That’s why it hired two young designers to develop its showcase, and that’s why its “Beat” collectives are made up of young people.
“It’s a celebration of youth and what youth can do,” McCune said.
In the spring, McCune said that he wants the Olympics to be mentioned in the company’s year-end report as a factor in strong business results. He said last week that he’s optimistic that will be the case.
August 5, 2012 08:33 AM
Though they can barely be heard, scalpers can be found on London streets with tickets to Olympic events.
It’s illegal to scalp tickets for the London Games. Parliament passed a law against it and has the power to levy a $30,000 fine against scalpers, who are known as “touts” in the U.K. Unwanted tickets are supposed to be resold through Ticketmaster, the official ticket service of London 2012.
But what’s supposed to happen and what’s happening in London are two different things. Scalpers are still working the streets outside Olympic venues and tickets can be had anywhere from Olympic Park to Wimbledon.
The bearded man offered a German couple two tickets to Saturday’s women’s singles gold-medal match for $750. The tickets had a face value of about $150 each.
“They were too expensive,” said Stefan, who declined to give his name because buying tickets from touts is illegal.
When a reporter approached the scalper after Stefan walked away and asked about how his business had been, the scalper denied he was in the resale business.
“I not have tickets. I want tickets,” he said before crossing the street and whispering the word “tickets” to people passing by.
The police and Olympic organizers are discouraging people from buying tickets on the street. A member of the Metropolitan Police near Wimbledon said that many of the tickets being sold on the street were fraudulent and the only way to ensure people buy a real ticket is to buy directly from London 2012.
The ticket sales process has been widely criticized by people in the U.K. Some 1.8 million people in the U.K. tried to buy tickets through a ballot process and many came away ticketless. Others got tickets to events that they didn’t want.
Organizers have been offering returned tickets on the official resale site and posting blocks of new tickets for sale nightly. But Stefan, who decided to take a four-day trip from Berlin only a few months ago, said that buying tickets directly from London organizers was a hassle.
“The ticket-buying system is terrible,” he said. “The official Olympic website looks like it was made in 1995. There are tickets that look like they’re available for beach volleyball, but as soon as you tried to get them, you couldn’t go through. It was annoying.”
He and his wife bought two pairs of tickets on eBay to rowing and Saturday’s track and field. They paid $300 and $450, respectively.
The auction site’s U.K. url (ebay.co.uk) doesn’t have tickets available, but its U.S. one (ebay.com) has tickets advertised for events ranging from synchronized swimming to beach volleyball. Closing ceremony tickets are being advertised for $7,999.
The idea of an official resale site works for people who got tickets in London’s balloting system for events they didn’t want, but it doesn’t work for last-minute decision makers.
Steven Hauberbeke and two friends from Belgium had tickets to the women’s singles gold-medal and bronze-medal tennis matches because they wanted to see Kim Clijsters play. But Clijsters was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Maria Sharapova on Friday. That left the group with 24 hours to sell tickets that they no longer wanted.
Hauberbeke said it was easier just to come to Wimbledon and sell them than go through the official resale site. They eventually sold the tickets at face value (£100 each).
“We didn’t buy tickets to gain money,” Hauberbeke said. “We bought them to see Kim Clijsters.”
August 4, 2012 10:05 PM
See NBC's viewership by night and top 20 metered markets below:
London Games Viewership
Through first 8 days of London Games
Friday, July 27 — 40.7 million
Saturday, July 28 — 28.7 million
Sunday, July 29 — 36.0 million
Monday, July 30 — 31.6 million
Tuesday, July 31 — 38.7 million
Wednesday, Aug. 1 — 30.8 million
Thursday, Aug. 2 — 36.8 million
Friday, Aug. 3 — 28.5 million
8-Night Metered Market Average
1. Salt Lake City — 27.4 / 48
2. Milwaukee — 25.2 / 42
3. Kansas City — 25.1 / 42
4. Denver — 24.8 / 47
5. Columbus — 24.1 / 40
6. Norfolk — 24.0 / 37
7. Indianapolis — 23.9 / 41
8. San Diego — 23.7 / 42
9. Richmond — 23.0 / 37
10 (tie). Minneapolis — 22.5 / 42
10 (tie). West Palm Beach — 22.5 / 37
10 (tie). Albuquerque — 22.5 / 37
13 (tie). Washington, D.C. — 22.1 / 40
13 (tie). Austin — 22.1 / 39
15 (tie). St. Louis — 21.8 / 36
15 (tie). Oklahoma City — 21.8 / 35
17 (tie). Portland — 21.7 / 44
17 (tie). Nashville — 21.7 / 34
17 (tie). Ft. Myers — 21.7 / 39
20. Sacramento — 21.5 / 40
Source: NBC Universal
August 4, 2012 04:38 PM
Williams and his innovation and apparel team at Nike spent the last four years doing just that. The result of their work made its Olympic debut when track and field began Friday.
Nike's tracksuit technology helps sprinters like Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix gain time, which can help in a situation like the tie they had at the Olympic Trials (below).
Williams oversees a staff of 40 people, and he challenged them after Beijing to rethink the way the company designed its speed suits. The push led them to develop 400 different iterations of textured fabrics before settling on a fabric that features small, raised circles that look like miniature doughnuts.
“When these athletes travel, the human form is traveling around 20 mph but the limbs are moving at up to 47 mph, and at those speeds wind becomes drag,” Williams said.
In the past, creating small sections of textured fabric would require stitching and create seams that added to an athlete’s drag. In this case, that could have negated the benefits of the textured fabric.
Williams’ team avoided that by developing a manufacturing process that allows them to print different textures onto fabric rather than stitch the fabric together. The result is a relatively seamless suit so that “what is cutting through the air is smooth or seams are at an angle that are perpendicular or horizontal to the wind,” Williams said.
The company has been running wind-tunnel tests since the 2000 Sydney Games, and the new suits tested out at 0.023 faster than the suits Nike developed for the Beijing Games. The test results surprised Williams and his team so much that they retested the suit three times to be sure it was accurate.
Nike outfits the U.S., Canadian and Chinese track teams, and athletes on each team can pick from eight to 12 different tracksuits featuring the new technology.
Williams and his team will be watching throughout this week to see if their effort over the last four years makes the type of difference they expect.
“It’s a long process, but it’s a great process,” Williams said. “Getting validation from the athletes we work with makes it worth it.”
August 4, 2012 01:11 PM
The London Games are the first to ever feature high-end, on-site hospitality that includes meals, drinks and tickets to events. Historically, the only hospitality at venues was for members of the International Olympic Committee and their guests. But the success of Prestige Ticketing, a joint-venture that paid more than $30 million for the rights, may change that at future Games.
Alan Gilpin, Prestige Ticketing’s chief operating officer, said the company has sold more than 99 percent of its packages. Only a few packages remain for the gold-medal basketball games.
“That’s a hell of an achievement in this market,” Gilpin said. “It’s a tribute to the level of interest in the Olympic Games.”
When London organizers decided to create new a hospitality offering for the Olympics, it put the rights to the package out to bid. Sodexo, a service and management company headquartered in France, and the Mike Burton Group, a sports and corporate hospitality company based in the U.K., won those hospitality rights.
The resulting joint-venture company, Prestige, set up hospitality at six venues: Olympic Park, Eton Dorney (rowing), Horse Guards Parade (beach volleyball), Greenwich Park (equestrian), North Greenwich Arena (gymnastics and basketball) and Wimbledon.
Packages ranged in price from $12,000 per ticket for the opening ceremony, one of the most prestigious events, to $795 for rowing qualification events. Most tickets included breakfast, a four-course lunch and a champagne reception.
Corporations bought approximately 80 percent of the tickets, and Gilpin said many of them are using the tickets for international guests. Individuals bought the other 20 percent.
Gilpin said the company has surpassed its sales goal of $150 million, ensuring it will be profitable, but he added that it won’t be as profitable as it had hoped because of the amount it invested into the hospitality venues and services.
Prestige spent $12 million building a three-story temporary facility in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium. The facility has a glass atrium and can accommodate 3,000 guests. It offers a four-course lunch with items like smoked salmon and foie gras before events and a post-event reception with desserts and gourmet cheeses.
Gilpin said Prestige is using the venue as a showcase for what it could do at other sports events. He brought through members of the IOC this week and will host guests from UEFA and Rio 2016 before the Games end.
It’s too late for Sochi 2014 to add a similar hospitality package to the Winter Games, but Rio could follow in London organizers’ footsteps and sell a similar package for 2016.
“We think it would work in Rio,” Gilpin said. “They’ll have a much more robust hospitality marketing after the World Cup.”
August 4, 2012 09:20 AM
Just as Horse Guards Parade exemplifies everything that organizers got right at the London Games, the Aquatics Centre this week became a showcase for where they fell short. And it starts with the venue.
From the outside, the venue looks stunning. London-based Zaha Hadid Architects designed a roof that curves and dips dramatically like a wave in the pool. The stands rise up on either side of the curve roofing, making the entire facility look like a concrete and steel replica of Michael Phelps in mid-butterfly stroke.
But inside, the venue becomes dysfunctional. The stands rise straight up beneath the dipping roof, leaving spectators a clipped view of the pool. It feels like watching a baseball game through a slit in the outfield fence. Agents, former Olympic swimmers and fans alike have complained about their sight lines this week.
Unlike other Games venues, such as Horse Guards Parade (below), the London Aquatics Centre fell short of Olympic excitement.
GETTY IMAGES (2)
There’s little music, the acoustics in the venue garble the emcee’s comments and there’s not much energizing the crowd other than a breakout performance by Lochte or a medal-winning performance by Great Britain’s Rebecca Addlington.
You don’t need fireworks to go off every time Missy Franklin sets a world record, but it’s a great way to let an international crowd know just how enormous an achievement like that is.
There’s a lot organizers of the 2016 Games in Rio can learn about both design and atmosphere by watching Saturday’s final night of swimming at the Aquatics Centre.
London organizers have done a great job of contemplating how venues will be used after these Games. The Aquatics Centre will have portions of its exterior stripped away after the Games and be converted into a community facility that is expected to attract 800,000 visitors a year.
But it’s important that the design process isn’t so focused on what a venue will be after the Olympics that it sacrifices its purpose and function during the Games.
When it comes to atmosphere, London organizers nailed it at Horse Guards Parade. They created a venue for beach volleyball that’s fun and vibrant — a true celebration of sport. USA Swimming did the same at its trials in Omaha in 2008 and 2012.
It wouldn’t be the worst idea if Rio took its inspiration from both events. Swimming, after all, has become the first week’s showcase sport. It’s time it got the celebration it deserves
August 4, 2012 09:05 AM
The fundraising total doubles what the organization raised in 2008 and is a 1,000 percent increase from the $30,000 in private gifts raised in 2002. Some of the individual gifts given in 2012 topped $25,000.
The U.S. women's eights team won its second straight Olympic gold medal on Thursday.
Merry said the Row to London campaign not only helped raise money, but it also helped drive interest among rowers in the USRowing team. Clubs around the country organized viewing parties for this week’s Olympics.
The Row to London campaign was the first marketing campaign the organization had ever launched before an Olympics. USRowing developed a “Row to London” logo that it featured on its website and apparel.
The money the organization raised is put into its elite athlete program. The organization spends $13 million to $14 million on its elite program during a four-year Olympic period, far less than the $60 million-plus that Great Britain spends on its rowing teams.
Merry said $1 million of the $1.2 million raised will go to cover athlete travel costs, training equipment and facilities used by elite athletes. The other $200,000 goes to administrative costs.
The organization saved more than $500,000 this Olympics by staying in an athlete village that London Olympic organizers developed for rowing teams near Eton Dorney, where the rowing has been held.
It’s the first time in the last decade the organization has had its rowers stay in the athlete village. The organization historically reserved hotel rooms for its rowers. In Athens, it spent $450,000 on hotels and in Beijing it spent $600,000. Neither Olympics had a village for rowers near the rowing venue.
Merry said coaches were concerned about there possibly being distractions for the athletes at the village, but staying there has worked out well. He praised LOCOG for creating a separate village for the rowers.
“It’s such a large rowing nation that they wanted it to be a showcase and the best possible situation for the athletes,” Merry said. “They’ve done that.”
August 4, 2012 09:01 AM
Beach volleyball player Todd Rogers (left) gave his input to Loudmouth CEO Larry Jackson (right) on the team's uniforms.
The result has been an influx of web traffic around Loudmouth's Resortwear line launched in January and available online. Loudmouth CEO Larry Jackson said that during the pair’s first two matches, the company’s web servers were “experiencing 25 to 50 times the normal servicing average during that one-hour time span.”
Jackson did not give specifics about how sales are trending, but the boardshorts are making up “about 20 to 25 percent of the sales when we’re looking at those spiked sequences based on the guys being on the court on TV.”
Each match featuring Rogers and Dalhausser, the defending Olympic champions, brought more exposure to the brand competing with sports manufacturing giants Nike and official LOCOG sponsor Adidas.
Last week, while Dalhausser and Rogers were still competing, Jackson said: “Every match we’re going to see more response because the deeper they go into the tournament, the more eyes are going to be on them, which will automatically turn into traffic for us.”
Loudmouth signed a sponsorship deal with Rogers and Dalhausser for the pair to wear the brand’s apparel and hats during all Olympic and non-Olympic play for the 2012 season. The company during the 2010 Vancouver Games sponsored the Norwegian curling team and saw a spike in sales at the beginning of those Games when the team played against Canada, and at the end when the team played in the gold-medal match, again against the host country.
Jackson said the spike in interest is nice, but the real numbers are those consumers who first visit out of interest during the Games, then return for purchases long after the Games are finished. “What you really want is enough new eyeballs that when the Games are all over you’ve got a 20 or 30 or 40 percent generic uptick in your sales,” he said.
Jackson said the process of getting the threads approved by the IOC and the FIVB was “very interesting.”
The "Today" show hosts all wore Loudmouth gear during Wednesday's episode.
The corporate logo on the shorts and shirts is limited to 20 square centimeters.
Loudmouth relied on press and PR for activation on the ground in London. A notable appearance was on Wednesday morning’s “Today” show, where all the hosts wore Loudmouth wind jackets, hoodies and sports coats during a visit and game with Rogers and Dalhausser.