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February 13, 2014 10:20 AM
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun (left) and Airweave CEO Motokuni Takaoka
Terms of the deal were not available, but Airweave is considered an official sponsor, and those deals are usually valued in the mid-six figures annually. Under the terms of the deal, Airweave is providing mattress toppers to Team USA athletes in Sochi and also will provide them in Rio in 2016.
“Their business is not established in the U.S., but they want to aggressively grow the business and the brand,” said Lisa Baird, USOC chief marketer. “In addition to financial benefits, this is a sponsorship that offers great benefits to our athletes. They’re going to really help us with some (value in kind).”
Airweave CEO Motokuni Takaoka appeared at USA House in Sochi to announce the sponsorship Wednesday. The company also has sponsorships with several other national Olympic committees, including Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan.
To assist in marketing its sponsorship of Team USA, Airweave signed endorsement deals with figure skater Gracie Gold and ice dancer Charlie White. The company estimates that it is providing 1,000 athletes in Sochi with mattress toppers during the Sochi Games.
Airweave launched in the U.S. last month. Its mattress tops use resin fibers that are woven together. It claims that the product’s breathability helps moisture generated by the body during sleep escape.
Michael O’Conor, USOC senior director of business development, negotiated the deal.
Baird said that the USOC currently is focused on servicing its existing partners and renewing them for the 2018 and 2020 Olympics.
“A lot of that is going to rest on how well we fulfill their expectations,” Baird said. “That’s where I have our team focused.”
February 13, 2014 09:07 AM
“Because of the Olympics, we built them,” said Khamzat Khasbulatov, CEO of McDonald’s Russia. “They’ve been so popular and packed.”
John Lewicki, McDonald’s head of global alliances, added: “We’ve been in Russia for 24 years, but it’s still a great growth market for us. (The Olympics) helped our business tremendously. The support of the organizing committee and the government, the way it’s set up, will help our business a lot more. It’s a great generator for us.”
McDonald’s built two restaurants in the Olympic Park — one for athletes and one for journalists. It is serving 6,000 customers a day at those two locations.
Because it was building those restaurants as part of its sponsorship commitment, McDonald’s expanded its supply chain in Russia to offer menu items it serves in other parts of the world. It added smoothies, parfaits and grilled chicken wraps to the menu. The parfaits had to pass Russian regulations for yogurt and be made from local products. The company set up the supply chain for those items, secured government approval and began serving them last October.
Khasbulatov said the new items will be available at McDonald’s locations around the country in the future, which will help boost national sales as well as choices for customers.
“Providing variety is still one of our biggest business drivers,” Khasbulatov said.
The United Kingdon and Russia are McDonald’s two biggest European markets. The company has 415 restaurants in Russia, and 37 of those rank among the top 100 in global sales for the company. It plans to open more than 45 restaurants in Russia annually in the coming years.
McDonald's built a playground near the Olympic Village as part of the legacy the company leaves in Olympic cities.
In addition to that, McDonald’s is running its “Champions of Play” program at the Sochi Games. It will bring 300 kids selected by schools across Russia to the Olympics. It also will host the winner of a youth hockey tournament it sponsored, and it is in the process of arranging a time for the kids to skate and play on one of the two hockey rinks built for the Olympics.
The company first began providing behind-the-scenes access to children it brought to the London Games. Those kids were able to go to the archery venue at Lord’s Cricket Ground and meet Olympic archers.
“We’re working with the IOC to continue doing that,” Lewicki said.
February 13, 2014 09:04 AM
NBC earned a 13.7 fast-national rating and 23.7 million viewers from 8-11:03 p.m. ET on Tuesday, up 12 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from the same night in 2010. Along with coverage of White, NBC also aired gold-medal finals for women’s luge singles and women’s ski jumping, as well as the figure skating pairs’ short program.
Coverage on Tuesday also was up 21 percent and 29 percent, respectively, from an 11.3 rating and 18.4 million viewers for the same night during Turin in 2006.
Tuesday night also helped NBC’s five-night average draw close to the average seen during Vancouver. The network is averaging a 14.4 rating in prime time, just short of the 14.5 at the same point in 2010, and up 13 percent from the 12.7 average rating seen in 2006.
February 13, 2014 08:57 AM
It has been a neck-and-neck race between the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Salt Lake City markets as to who wins the race for highest-rated market during NBC’s prime-time Olympic coverage.
Through five nights, the Twin Cities have won three times, with Salt Lake City winning twice. Minneapolis-St. Paul is averaging a 22.5 local rating, while Salt Lake City has a 22.3 rating. Rounding out the top five markets are Denver (20.2), Milwaukee (19.5) and Ft. Myers-Naples (18.6).
February 13, 2014 08:50 AM
NBC Sports Network continued its strong performance during the Sochi Games with another record daytime audience. Coverage on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. averaged 1.1 million viewers, marking a record for the network during that time period, topping the mark set Monday.
NBC Sports Net also had set records during Sunday’s and Saturday’s coverage.
February 12, 2014 06:47 PM
Citi Chief Brand Officer Dermot Boden
SHANA WITTENWYLER PHOTO
This week he spoke with SBJ staff writer Tripp Mickle in Sochi’s Olympic Park about some of the trends he’s seen in marketing for the Sochi Games.
■ Sponsors like Citi, which is donating $500,000 to amateur sports organizations selected by the athletes it endorses, increasingly put charity at the heart of their Olympic marketing. Is this a trend we can expect to see beyond the Olympics?
BODEN: Sponsors are getting more thoughtful. From our point of view it’s a matter of realizing if you want to build something, hopefully existing companies and new clients as well, you must demonstrate something that’s not just advertising. You have to demonstrate that they’re part of the brand, not just communicate your message. Experience our message. That’s why we tried to make the program as interactive as we have. It has to be right for the brand, and contributing funds to organizations that are part of the community makes sense for us as a brand. I hope we see more brands do it because it’s the right thing.
■ There was a tweet Chobani put out last week of its yogurts stacked in the colors of the rainbow. It was promoting diversity and appeared to be attacking Russia’s anti-gay law. How does a marketer decide if taking a marketing stance like that is right?
BODEN: I can’t speak for other people. I can only speak for ourselves. For us diversity is a critical element of the brand, of our ethics and our beliefs. We support the IOC and USOC in their efforts to have as diverse an atmosphere as possible.
Every marketing organization has to address it as they think they should and whatever they think they need to do. Do I think it’s right? I can’t be a judge of what’s right or wrong for them. From our point of view, we’re clear about diversity. We are a brand for everybody, period.
■ There was an article about some Olympic sponsors developing back-up advertising in case there was a security issue here or some other problem. Did you think about developing back-up marketing materials?
BODEN: Do we think about it? Yes. Did we develop specific activation (back-up) plans? Not at this stage. It takes a lot to get our activations in place to be successful. You have to enter this realistic but optimistic we’re going to have a successful Games. Do we have back-up plans? Of course we have communication plans if something unexpected happens. There’s been so much attention on these Games that I’m not terribly worried. The security has been intense. It’s been at times painful, and I think it’s going to be fine here.
■ McDonald’s put up a social media campaign that was “hijacked” by gay rights advocates. Was social-media hijacking on your radar before this Olympics?
BODEN: It probably wasn’t for me. Social media is moving so fast and you’re learning so quickly. It’s hard to think about all the problems you have to address. You do your best to be smart and sharp. It’s something else to be aware of for the future.
■ What’s your experience so far here in Sochi?
BODEN: The first thing that hit me is I have spent a ridiculous amount (unnecessarily) on clothing. It’s 60 degrees, it’s just so warm. We were talking to the NBC guys and they said the weather might be warmer than Rio. The backdrop here is phenomenal. The buildings are impressive. It’s lovely to see a country with such pride for the Games hosting. Our athletes are doing well so far.
■ Is there an event you’re excited about?
BODEN: I enjoy luge and am interested to see how that goes. I’m going to watch the hockey team with (Citi athlete) Julie Chu. I’d like them to do well and her to do well. I’ll be coming back for the Paralympics as well. I’m thrilled NBC is making an effort to cover it.
February 12, 2014 06:08 PM
The new sponsors include Got Milk, STX Hockey and Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette and Bounty brands. Liberty Mutual, an existing sponsor, expanded its deal to include a presenting sponsorship of a series of women’s hockey exhibition games.
All of the sponsors are featuring members of USA Hockey in marketing and promotions around the Games. Gillette is working with Ryan Suter, Bounty with Julie Chu, Got Milk with Zach Parise, and STX Hockey with Hillary Knight. Liberty Mutual is working with Rico Roman and Monique Lamoureux.
The deals collectively pushed USA Hockey’s annual corporate revenue up 23 percent from where it was during the 2010 Vancouver Games.
“Looking at this Olympic year, people have a good memory of Vancouver, and the overall strength of the NHL and high level of U.S. players helped us,” said Lee Meyer, USA Hockey’s senior director of marketing.
USA Hockey is one of the only U.S. national governing bodies to restrict its athletes from appearing in uniform for advertising and marketing with a company that doesn’t sponsor its team. That rule, which is written into its player contracts, helped it negotiate several new deals with companies looking to feature its athletes.
The organization also allows companies to pay for “image rights” to feature its jerseys on hockey players it uses in campaigns. Citibank (Chu and Roman), BP (Chu), Chobani (Parise and Roman), McDonald’s (Patrick Kane) and Kellogg’s (Jim Craig) all paid for image rights ahead of the Sochi Games.
“This is way, way beyond what we’ve ever had before in terms of using our athletes and our jerseys,” Meyer said.
In addition to those companies featuring USA Hockey athletes, the organization’s beer partner, Labatt, developed special-edition jersey cans featuring this year’s Team USA jersey.
The jersey has been one of the best-selling jerseys in USA Hockey history. The organization’s merchandise revenue is up 80 percent from the Vancouver Games, and the increase has been driven primarily by jersey sales, Meyer said. He added, “That’s a huge statement when you think of Vancouver being a North American Olympics. It’s gigantic.”
February 12, 2014 05:36 PM
With both the U.S. and Canada playing their opening games Thursday, a large portion of the 30-minute show was dedicated to the goalie situation for the two countries. Jonathan Quick of the U.S. is going to start the opening game tomorrow against Slovakia, while Canada is going with Carey Price against Norway and Roberto Luongo on Friday against Slovenia. The moves are noteworthy in that both Miller and Luongo started for their countries in the 2010 Vancouver Games.
NHL Network’s Mike Johnson noted from the network’s Toronto studio that there is not a “clear-cut 1 and 2 situation” with the U.S. While Quick has been “really hot as of late,” Johnson thought Miller would get the call given that he “was the incumbent.” He said, “You can’t go wrong with Jonathan Quick, one of the best goalies in the world. But I thought Ryan Miller, given his season and his track record at the Olympics, would be given strong consideration.” The network’s E.J. Hradek said, “I think they were with Quick from the get-go here.”
The move to go with Price for Canada’s opening game was called the “smart decision” by Johnson. Price was named the NHL’s Player of the Week last week, and Johnson noted Canada coach Mike Babcock is “going with the better, hotter goalie right now.” Johnson: “Quite frankly, he’s just playing better than Roberto Luongo right now. He’s the better option, so you have to give him that first start.”
The show aired interviews with the captains for the two teams — Jeremy Roenick talked to Zach Parise of the U.S., while Dan Rosen caught up with Canada’s Jonathan Toews. Hradek and Johnson also broke down the players to watch for the countries’ opening games.
While most of the talk centered on the U.S. and Canadian teams — understandable considering NHL Network airs in both countries — the rest of the tournament was not ignored. Hradek and Johnson broke down full highlights of Wednesday’s two games from Group C — Czech Republic-Sweden and Latvia-Switzerland. Also, NHL Network’s Kathryn Tappen, who was broadcasting from the Bolstoy Ice Dome in Sochi, reported on Russia’ final practice before its game Thursday against Slovenia. She noted it was a “serious” affair and that there were “not a lot a smiles” on the faces of the players from the home team.
There was no mention of the women’s tournament at all, somewhat surprising considering that Canada defeated the U.S. Wednesday in a controversial 3-2 game.
Tappen promoted the prime-time Olympic coverage on both NBC and CBC coming out of two separate commercial breaks.
February 12, 2014 11:25 AM
Wasserman Media Group's Circe Wallace hugs Iouri Podladtchikov after his gold medal.
“You did it!” she said, her eyes wide with disbelief. “I can’t believe it you f---king did it”
Wallace’s disbelief was genuine. No one at the halfpipe thought Shaun White’s reign atop the medal podium would end. Not her. Not Podladtchikov. Not U.S. Snowboarding.
The likelihood White would three-peat was so great and concerns about security in Sochi so were so high that Wallace nearly decided not to come to the Winter Games.
“I am so happy I came,” she said later. “I mean, he toppled the throne.”
Wallace has been representing snowboarders for 15 years, and Podladtchikov — who goes by the nickname “I-Pod” — is her second gold medalist. She also represents Australian Torah Bright, who won the women’s halfpipe gold in 2010. But Podladtchikov’s gold medal is one she and everyone else will remember forever because it brought an end to White’s reign in Olympic halfpipe.
As Podladtchikov wove his way through a media area, fielding questions from broadcasters and print journalists, Wallace stood off to the side and listened. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a pony tail. She had on a black puffy coat, black jeans and black leather biker gloves with silver buckles at her wrists.
“This is kind of a big deal,” she said. “Shaun’s had it for so long. It’s anyone’s game for second or third usually, but to win ….” She paused, looked at Podladtchikov and shook her head with disbelief. “It’s huge!”
Wallace wasn’t sure what endorsement opportunities there might be for Podladtchikov, but she’s optimistic that some will come through. He already has deals with Quiksilver, Vans, Monster Energy and GoPro. She plans to work with his coach, Marco Bruni, and look for opportunities with U.S., European and Russian companies.
'I-Pod' was able to end Shaun White's reign in Olympic halfpipe.
“It remains to be seen what the interest will be (in Russia), but the hope is it’s a global story,” said Wallace, who has represented Podladtchikov since 2006, when he was 17 years old. “He speaks the language. He loves Russia. He says he’s Russian in his heart. He rides with the Swiss team.”
When asked what her selling point for Podladtchikov was, Wallace shrugged and turned his way. He was still chattering away with the press about how he never thought he would win.
“Look at him,” she said. “His cheek bones. Winning in Russia. Beating Shaun. Yeah, beating Shaun.”
A woman with the International Olympic Committee tapped Wallace on the shoulder and looked toward Podladtchikov.
“You want me to get him?” Wallace asked. She reached over and grabbed his arm. It was time for his drug testing.
“OK,” she said, “let’s go.”
As she led him through a gated corral away from the media, Podladtchikov threw his head back and roared. Wallace glanced back at him over her shoulder. She shook her head. No way. No freaking way.
February 12, 2014 10:52 AM
NBC's Matt Lauer
“Congratulations. You’re on today.”
Lauer finished the “Today” show and spent the evening preparing to host his first prime-time Olympics broadcast by watching video of old prime-time shows.
“He hadn’t been able to watch them and wanted to get a sense of it,” Bell said. “He kind of poured himself into it for the next couple of hours and then we put on the show. He was great last night. He was incredible.”
Lauer will host the prime-time broadcast again tonight. Costas let Bell know around 5 p.m. in Sochi that he wouldn’t be able to do it. He is still battling an eye infection that makes it difficult for him to see. He called Lauer during the “Today” show broadcast and told Lauer he’d be hosting again.
“Matt’s the ultimate team player and consummate professional,” said NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. “He’s filled in more than ably. And any number of people could have filled in — Dan (Patrick) or Al Michaels, Brian Williams — any of the Mount Rushmore of broadcasters at the company. Matt did an excellent job and will do it again tonight.”
Bell, who produced the “Today” show until 2012, said the call from Costas made him feel like USA Basketball coach Chuck Daly with the 1992 Dream Team.
“I looked down the bench and I basically had to put one hall of famer in for another,” he said.