• London organizers, NBC and Team USA prove the naysayers wrong

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offered its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    London organizers

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    What a testament these Games were to the London Olympic Organizing Committee and its leaders, Sebastian Coe and Paul Deighton. They chose not to be Beijing, to give these Games their own personality and flair. Along the way, they paid attention to every detail while still managing not to smoother the London Games in bureaucracy and political correctness. From the well-designed layout of venues, to the opening and closing ceremonies, to fixing security issues on the fly, to always maintaining a healthy dose of British humor, they delivered a fantastic Olympics.

    SILVER

    NBC

    What else can be said about NBC Sports and its performance these past 17 days? From the best non-U.S. Olympic ratings in decades to ad sales records to offering every minute of every Olympic event live, albeit with a few glitches along the way, NBC performed brilliantly during the London Games.

    BRONZE

    Team USA

    Everyone said this was China’s year to win the medal count, yet when the final tally was in, Team USA had delivered one of its finest performances in history. The U.S. won 104 medals overall, 46 of them gold, to China’s 88 medals and 38 golds. The U.S. Olympic Committee, its national governing bodies and all of the athletes and coaches should be commended.

    TIN

    The naysayers

    For all those who said no one could follow Beijing, who said London was too big of a city to host the Games and that security would be a nightmare and traffic disastrous, to the ones who said tape-delayed coverage can’t possibly work in this day and age and that online coverage would cannibalise all media, to even those who said China was poised to take over the medal count and Team USA and Team GB would spend these past 17 days on their heels — to all of the naysayers everywhere, we’re happy to say you were wrong.

  • British security, U.S. women perform brilliantly throughout the Games

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    British security troops


    Britain’s armed forces were thrown into the Olympic mix at the last minute after security firm G4S admitted its failures, and with one day remaining, they’ve performed brilliantly. Not only have the Games gone off without a hitch, but by all accounts security has been quick, solid and even often delivered with a smile.

    SILVER

    U.S. women

    Following gold-medal triumphs in soccer and basketball, the U.S. women continue to have a dominating Games. From the team sports to boxing, rowing, gymnastics, swimming and track, U.S. female athletes have had an outstanding Olympics, helping keep America at the top of the medal count.

    BRONZE

    Manteo Mitchell

    Midway through the first leg of Thursday’s 4x400 relay preliminaries, Mitchell heard a loud pop and felt excruciating pain in his left leg. Turns out, he had snapped his fibula. He had two choices: Collapse to the track and the U.S. team would not make the finals, or sprint the final 200 meters on a broken leg to finish his portion of the race. He kept going, and that effort allowed the U.S. to make the finals and eventually win a medal in Friday’s finals.

    TIN

    Cameron van der Burgh

    Less than a week after winning gold in the 100-meter breaststroke and setting a world record, the South African swimmer admitted to cheating during the race by taking three underwater dolphin kicks when the rules only allow for one. Despite calls for the results to be changed or him to voluntarily give up the gold medal, van der Burgh has been unapologetic. Being honest is nice, but this isn’t exactly the Olympic ideal.

  • Usain Bolt, USA Track & Field shine, while some Americans just whine

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    Usain Bolt … again

    For the second time in a week — and second Summer Games in a row — the Jamaican sprinter captivated the world by sweeping the sprint events in London. Bolt’s personality and performances have helped NBC fight off Olympic fatigue during the Games’ final week, and have even provided what’s being called the “Bolt Boost” as searches for flights to Jamaica are up 51 percent this week, according to one tracker.

    SILVER

    USA Track & Field

    The organization has taken its lumps in recent years, both for its dysfunction and on-track results. But with two days left in London’s track and field competition, the U.S. has already won more medals than at any Olympics since the boycotted L.A. Games in 1984, and there have been no embarrassing stumbles or displays along the way. There’s still a lot of work to be done at home, but congratulations are certainly in order.

    BRONZE

    Those venues

    From the open and inviting Olympic Park, to the Olympic Stadium and archery at Lord’s Cricket Ground, to beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade, virtually every venue on the London Olympic program has been spectacular. Save for a few missteps where form overshadowed function, London’s venues have been among the most convenient and picturesque of any Olympics in recent memory.

    TIN

    Ugly Americans

    Whether it’s gymnastics coaches protesting scores, boxing analysts screaming that we’ve been robbed, accusations toward Chinese swimmers or simply not being gracious in defeat, we’re been seeing too much whining and finger-pointing from U.S. athletes, coaches and even commentators. Every time somebody from another country beats an American, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the judges blew it, we were robbed or — whether stated subtly or outright — that the other athlete was doping, It also doesn’t necessarily mean that our athlete was better but just had a bad day. Sometimes we just get beat, and that’s OK.

  • 40th anniversary of Title IX pays off, while USA Boxing hits the canvas

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    Title IX

    The U.S. women’s soccer team goes for gold Thursday at the same time the U.S. women’s basketball team plays for a spot in the gold-medal game. America’s female beach volleyball players swept their medals Wednesday, and the U.S. women’s swim team had its best performance since 1984. Throw in several medals already won by the U.S. women in track and field, and it’s by no means a stretch to say the 40th anniversary of Title IX has actually been its golden year.

    SILVER

    Hoopsters on a train


    Like anyone else heading home after a late night at work, the U.S. men’s basketball team simply took the Javelin train home following its victory over Argentina on Monday night. Supposedly, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James even shared Twizzlers with some of the other riders. Maybe it was a photo opportunity, maybe it was just for fun, but it’s the latest example of the NBA stars being inclusive in these Games instead of exclusive. They’ve mingled in the Athletes Village, cheered on U.S. athletes in other events around London and, from all appearances, truly enjoyed the Olympic experience.

    BRONZE

    Beach volleyball

    Not since 1996, the year beach volleyball was introduced to the Olympics, have two teams from the same country face off for the gold medal. But that’s what happened Wednesday, with Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings taking gold over April Ross and Jennifer Kessy. That came one day after Hilton announced that it will hold a U.S.-China beach volleyball exhibition to be shown on NBC and China TV in the fall. In terms of its pecking order on the U.S. Olympic platform, beach volleyball just continues to grow.

    TIN

    USA Boxing

    The U.S. came away with no medals for the first time in Olympic boxing history. At least, none for the men. The first-time female program is going to save USA Boxing from getting a total goose egg in London. USA Boxing has been chasing its tail for years, both competitively and financially. The organization spent the last four years getting its financial house in order. Now it’s clear it needs to spend the next four getting its act together in the ring before the sport becomes even more of an afterthought in the U.S.

  • Team GB, Puma clean up, while the velodrome just cooks

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    Team GB

    After a slow start, British athletes are enjoying their greatest Olympics in more than a century, collecting 22 gold medals and 48 medals overall through Tuesday’s competition. Not since the 1908 Games in London have the Brits fared so well, and it’s caused their social media outlets to explode in recent days, gaining more than 1 million followers combined on Facebook and Twitter.

    Puma's logo on the left shoulder of the Jamaican uniforms has gotten a lot of TV time this week.
    SILVER

    Puma

    The athletic footwear and apparel brand pales in comparison to Nike and Adidas in terms of sales and marketing, but it certainly stands tall during the Olympics thanks to its sponsorship of the Jamaican track team. Puma’s apparel, and its prevalent logo, have gotten immeasurable attention as the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and so many other Jamaicans have dominated the shorter distances in London.

    BRONZE

    Liu Xiang

    In one of the more painful stories of the Games, Liu Xiang once again failed to fulfill his promise as the greatest track star China ever produced. In 2008, he injured his Achilles tendon and struggled out of the blocks. In London, he apparently suffered the same injury, causing him to clip his first hurdle of the Games and tumble to the track. The 2004 Olympic champion has gone home empty-handed twice now. Sadly, as Usain Bolt has soared, Xiang has collapsed.

    TIN

    GETTY IMAGES
    London Velopark


    The building itself is very cool, with an exterior made of wood that bends outward and an interior that looks like a salad platter. And it certainly has been electrified with Team Great Britain celebrations this week. But, to quote London 2012 organizers, the venue is made of a “100 percent naturally ventilated system that eliminates the need for air conditioning.” Sure, if you like sitting in a bamboo steamer — which, come to think of it, is how the place looks and feels.

  • Olympic Stadium crowds are spot on; the Games’ mascots, not so much

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    Olympic Stadium atmosphere

    The atmosphere at the stadium for track and field has been unbelievable, with packed crowds of 70,000-plus amped up even for the qualifying rounds during the day. The Brits love track so much that many took a seat in the stadium an hour and a half early on the first day of competition. Throw in a competitor from Great Britain and the place simply erupts. It makes for an awfully fun in-stadium experience, and also comes across well on TV.

    SILVER

    Oscar Pistorius &
    Nike creativity


    Nike once again found a unique way to get its brand noticed, sponsoring sprinter Oscar Pistorius and putting a small Swoosh on the South African’s prosthetic legs at the London Games. Pistorius was eliminated in the semifinals of the men’s 400 meters, but he’s set to run the 4x400 relay later this week.

    BRONZE

    Judo champion Edith Bosch

    The Dutch judo bronze medalist struck, and helped subdue, a man who threw a bottle onto the track at the Olympic Stadium shortly before Sunday night’s 100 meters. That’s poetic justice when a spectator who does something so outrageously stupid happens to be sitting next to someone who can hurt them in hundred different of ways.
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    TIN

    Wenlock and Mandeville

    Why can’t anybody get Olympic mascots right? These two are the latest examples of creepy-looking, alien-like blobs that somebody deemed worthy of being the “faces” of an Olympic Games. It’s no surprise that Wenlock and Mandeville dolls reportedly are being sold at an 80 percent discount in London. Would you want one?

  • Bolt strikes twice as face of Olympic Games’ second week

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD


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    Usain Bolt

    A slew of questions swirled around Usain Bolt during the last year, but the Jamaican sprinter put them all to rest and cemented his place among the greatest Olympians of all time. His success is sure to help his sponsors: Puma, Visa, Gatorade, Virgin Media, Hublot, Nissan, Digicel, Regupol. It’s also a big win for track and field, which has benefited from Bolt’s worldwide recognition since the 2008 Games.

    SILVER

    Coca-Cola’s ‘Beat’ marketing

    Coca-Cola’s “Beats” Olympic marketing campaign is as creative, comprehensive and consistent as anything at the Games. From the “Beatbox” venue in the Olympic Park to the groups of performers entertaining people around London, the beverage maker has scored a hit with its music-focused marketing.

    BRONZE

    BMW’s mini Mini


    Olympic venues are supposed to be void of sponsors, but official London 2012 sponsor BMW found a creative and fun way to integrate its product into the Olympic stadium — providing radio-controlled miniature versions of its Mini that retrieve shot puts, javelins and other pieces of equipment during the track and field competition.


    TIN

    London Aquatic Centre

    The competition is over, but there is talk that the Aquatic Centre will be nominated for architectural awards. It shouldn’t be. The facility is an example of an architectural concept — a roof that looks like a wave — trumping function. Views inside the facility were poor because the roof dipped so far down into the stands.

  • London mayor brings a party like a rock star to the Games

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    Boris Johnson

    Whether he’s dangling from a zip line or giving his assessment of beach volleyball — “There are semi-naked women … glistening like wet otters” — the London mayor has become a sort of rock star to these Games, bringing the party with him wherever he goes.

    SILVER

    NBC’s ratings

    One week into the Games, NBC’s ratings continue to shoot through the roof, averaging nearly 34 million viewers through the first nine nights and easily topping ratings numbers for the last three Summer Olympics. Peacock executives have to be ecstatic heading into the Games’ second half.

    BRONZE

    USRowing

    The governing body raised $120,000 during a 60-day fundraising campaign dubbed “Row to London,” helping double its fundraising efforts from four years ago, to $1.2 million. USRowing further helped its cause by having its athletes stay in the Athletes’ Village throughout the Games as opposed to spending more than $500,000 to house them in hotels, which it did in past Olympics. It certainly didn’t affect performance, either, as the women’s eight squad took gold for the second straight Games.

    TIN

    Mariel Zagunis

    This isn’t a jab at Zagunis, the two-time defending Olympic gold-medal fencer, for failing to win a medal this time around. But it is an assessment of our sportsmanship following after her semifinal loss to South Korea’s Kim Jiyeon. Zagunis failed to congratulate her opponent afterward, and when questioned about it later, said: “Congrats to them for winning. In my opinion, if I was completely 100 percent on mentally, then I would have been able to win again. It’s happened to me before.” We understand frustration, but we would expect a little more grace from the athlete who was voted to carry the American flag in the opening ceremony.

  • Gabby Douglas, AT&T make quick work after gold-medal efforts

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    Gabby Douglas

    At the start of the year, the energetic 16-year-old was a virtual unknown. She didn’t land her first sponsor, Procter & Gamble, until after she won the Olympic Trials last month. But after her gold-medal triumph in the all-around gymnastics competition Thursday, Kellogg’s quickly tabbed Douglas to be on boxes of Corn Flakes this morning. Look for a lot more deals to come her way. To read about her agent, Sheryl Shade, click here.

    SILVER

    AT&T’s quick turnaround

    Within hours of Rebecca Soni setting a world record in the 200 breaststroke on Thursday, AT&T not only used footage of the race in an advertising spot, but it had an actress writing Soni’s winning time on a message board as the ad came to a close. That’s an impressive turnaround by AT&T and its marketing team, and raises the bar on Olympic advertising.

    BRONZE

    Dow

    The company not only has made it through the first week of the Games without activists and the Bhopal tragedy overshadowing its Olympic efforts — thanks in large part to Dow’s improved communications — but it also has a clear eye on Olympic sales, saying it will generate $1 billion in Olympics-related business by 2020.

    TIN

    Where is everybody?

    Government and organizer predictions that the city would be a madhouse has caused many people to stay away, turning much of London into a ghost town. That’s nice for traffic but certainly not good for merchants, taxi drivers, hotels and anyone else who had high hopes for these Games.

  • Cyclist Wiggins, British rowers provide host country a boost

    Each day during the Summer Games, SportsBusiness Journal offers its take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around London.

    GOLD

    Brtiain's Bradley Wiggins on the way to his gold medal on Wednesday.
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    Bradley Wiggins &
    Great Britain rowing


    Wiggins, last month’s Tour de France champion, and the British women’s rowing team delivered the country’s first two gold medals of these Olympics on Wednesday, providing a mental lift for a nation that had begun to get pretty frustrated with its lack of success on the medal stand five days into the Games.

    SILVER

    Ticketing

    London organizers seem to be getting a handle on the Games’ many empty seats, and the complaints that accompanied them. Venues have been better filled the last couple days, and there’s now concerted calls for the IOC to revamp its entire ticketing operation to avoid similar problems at future Games.

    BRONZE

    Dr. Dre’s Beats

    Call it ambush marketing or genius at work, Beats By Dre headphones have crashed the London party thanks to the brand sending Team GB athletes like Tom Daley and Laura Robson specially designed headphones branded with Union Jack colors that delicately dance around the Olympic marketing rules. IOC, LOCOG and in particular official sponsor Panasonic can’t be happy, but you have to admire the creativity.

    TIN

    Bad Badminton play

    Four women’s badminton teams — including the world doubles champions team from China — were kicked out of the Games on Wednesday for deliberating trying to lose matches in order to get an easier draw later in the tournament. Somehow, the creator of the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” — or faster, higher, stronger — never envisioned this.

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