• Podcast: Yahoo's Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski

    SBJ's Tripp Mickle and Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo's Puck Daddy
    SBJ's Tripp Mickle and Greg Wyshynski, creator and editor of Yahoo's popular Puck Daddy hockey blog, have a fun, insightful and irreverent discussion about the Sochi Games, covering everything from Sochi 2014's preparation and how things have changed for the better during the second half of the Games, to the hockey tournament and how the hookup app Tinder has swept through the Athletes' Village. Among the highlights:

    "Everything is being built right as we get there, and that's exactly what Sochi is. Literally as you walk into the hotels or the venues, you hear saws. … Russians are like a people who cram for tests. … I don't know if a lot of people who were harsh about it don't want to acknowledge that they got their stuff together, but they have."

    "Russia looks like the middle of Pennsylvania. It looks exactly like Pennsyltucky. You go up to the Poconos where the mountains are. It's all flat. There's a lot of quarries and rocks and random streams and tiny houses in the distance. It looks exactly like Pennsylvania, which is not what I expected."

    "From a pop culture perspective, what's the thing I'd least expect to see in the Athletes' Village? Well, I saw it — a 'Rambo' video game. … Did they not get a chance to get the 'Red Dawn' video game or 'Rocky IV' video game?"

    Tags: Yahoo, Hockey, Russia, Olympics, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Thanks to Sochi Games, Coke sees double-digit growth in Russia

    The Sochi Games helped Coca-Cola achieve double-digit growth in Russia last year for its trademark Coca-Cola brand.

    The company has been using the Olympics to market its brand in Russia the last five years, and over that time it saw an increase in volume, brand preference and, perhaps most importantly, brand preference among Russian teens, which is a key demographic.

    “The Olympics have definitely been a huge success in Russia,” said Emmanuel Seuge, Coca-Cola’s vice president of global alliances and ventures. “We had a good end of the year in Russia and activation started nine months ago in Russia.”

    Scott McCune, Coca-Cola vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing, said that the other thing the Olympics had done was boost Coca-Cola’s sales and stature in southern Russia. The company has long been a market leader in the soft-drink category in Russia, but it trailed Pepsi in the south of the country.

     “Sochi has allowed us to take leadership because of the five-year build-up,” McCune said.

    Coca-Cola has a large, red showcase pavilion in the Olympic Park in Sochi. More than 2,500 spectators a day are coming through the venue. The showcase emphasizes healthy and active living.

    It features two domes that can be seen by spectators as they exit the train station. One of the domes highlights Coke’s role in the Olympic Torch relay and talks about the history of the company in Russia. The second is interactive and encourages guests to live active lifestyles.

    Coca-Cola tends to put less emphasis on the Winter Games than it does on the Summer Olympics. It is only activating in 10 to 15 markets worldwide, and its focus around Sochi has been growing its business in Russia.

    In an earnings call last week, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said that the company last year saw its business achieve an “all-time high market share for non-alcoholic, ready-to-drink beverages.”

    Tags: Russia, Olympics, Coca-Cola
  • USOC digital views nearly top London, Vancouver combined

    The U.S. Olympic Committee sold out of its entire digital advertising inventory for the Sochi Games and delivered record-setting traffic for advertisers.

    The organization’s website (teamusa.org) and new app have combined to deliver more than 16.2 million page views during the first 10 days of the Sochi Games, nearly as much as the 17 million total page views that it netted from Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 combined.

    John Pierce, the USOC’s managing director of marketing and productions, said the traffic reflects the rising consumption of digital media on mobile devices and the popularity of U.S. athletes, whose stories and bio pages attracted the most views.

    “It speaks to the popularity of the Games,” Pierce said. “Twitter’s become easier to use. The way tech is being used to serve fans is making it easier to consume content, but it starts with the athlete. People want to know more about our athletes.”

    The USOC hosted a digital “newsfront” last year to pitch digital ad buyers and sponsors on advertising on its site during the Games. Its sponsors Airweave, Smuckers, Folgers and Deloitte took advertising positions. It also sold inventory to non-sponsors J.C. Penney, Endless Pools, Oberto and the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    “We had a high bar for revenue expectations and we’ve met it,” Pierce said. “We met it because we hit the sweet spot for us, which is to tell the athlete stories and drive people to consume live streaming and TV coverage at NBC.”

    The USOC’s Twitter audience nearly doubled from 270,000 before the opening ceremony to 570,000, and the number Facebook likes and shares it’s received, which is multiplied by how many people see those likes and shares, jumped from 400,000 to 4.5 million.

    Pierce said the USOC digital team’s effort to be more timely with information it’s sharing on social channels has helped drive those increases. He pointed to a Facebook post after Meryl Davis and Charlie White won gold as an example. It netted 105,000 likes in less than 12 hours.

    “In London, we weren’t as active,” Pierce said. “We weren’t posting as much.”

    Pierce said the USOC’s digital platforms are getting twice as much traffic from tablets and phones (10.9 million page views) as they are from computers (5.3 million page views).

    More than 360,000 people downloaded its “Team USA Road to Sochi presented by Smuckers.” The total is nearly 100,000 more downloads than the USOC netted for its “Road to London” app.

    Traffic is up on the app from London, too. It’s generated 7.6 million page views. Pierce said that’s a result of modifying the app to emphasize athlete information.

    “We learned from London and we made a conscious decision to focus the content on the athletes themselves,” Pierce said. “It was built as a companion app. If you’re watching the NBC broadcast or live streaming and you say, ‘Oh, who is (snowboarder) Nate Holland.’ You can go and find out. We know it’s working because the page views are through the roof on it.”

    Tags: USOC, Olympics
  • TD Ameritrade puts miles, money into Olympic hopefuls

    TD Ameritrade's "It Adds Up" campaign helped potential future Olympians fly to Sochi to experience the Games.
    Part of the appeal of the Olympics is discovering the stories of athletes and what it takes for them to reach the pinnacle of their sport. TD Ameritrade hopes to stand out from the marketing clutter of the Games by being part of the journey for five Olympic and two Paralympic hopefuls.

    In addition to six current Olympians and one Paralympian, TD Ameritrade teamed up with seven other athletes, ranging from age 14 to 23, who are hoping to earn a spot on Team USA for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. It’s all part of the online brokerage company’s “It Adds Up” campaign, which allows fans to be part of the journey of these athletes.

    “It’s really about marginal gains, both in investing and with athletes,” said Dedra DeLilli, director of corporate sponsorships and social media marketing for TD Ameritrade. “There are little things that you can do as an athlete or an investor that add up to something big.”

    So far, the little things have added up to big things for the Olympic hopefuls thanks to the efforts of TD Ameritrade and the participation of fans. From the time the campaign kicked off in early December through Sochi’s opening ceremony on Feb. 7, every mention of #itaddsup on social media was leveraged to accrue miles for the prospective Olympians to go to Sochi and experience the Games firsthand. The total added up to 37,017 miles, enough to send the seven hopefuls to Sochi.

    TD Ameritrade also supports several current Olympians.
    “They really had an experience of a lifetime and were able to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of what it would be like at an Olympic Games in everything from getting guidance of navigating the business side and agents to getting media training and actually being interviewed,” DeLilli said. “We just thought it was a unique opportunity for us to provide these hopefuls with an Olympic experience without the added pressure of competing, which we often hear is an overwhelming experience for a first-time Olympic or Paralympic athlete.”

    After the opening ceremony, the #itaddsup mentions were reset so that with every mention, TD Ameritrade donates $1 to an account for each of the seven athletes. The goal is to fund each account with $25,000. The campaign has raised $12,471 so far.

    This is the second Olympics that the company has been a part of, following the 2012 Summer Games in London. The theme for its marketing strategy in London revolved around the idea of “help along the way.” The “It Adds Up” campaign hopes to build off that and take it a step further.

    “One of the things we learned in London is that opportunities are really endless around the Olympic Games,” DeLilli said. “So we decided that we were going to really make a bigger splash and invest in things like social media, particularly, which we think lends itself well to the idea of ‘It Adds Up.’”

    TD Ameritrade’s “It Adds Up” Athletes

    Current Olympians:
    Tim Burke / Biathlon
    Ryan Callahan / Hockey
    J.R. Celski / Short-track speedskating
    Patrick Deneen / Freestyle skiing
    Noelle Pikus-Pace / Skeleton
    Danelle Umstead / Visually impaired Paralympic alpine skiing
    Louie Vito / Snowboard

    Hopeful Olympians:
    Gracie Clapp-Taylor (age 21) / Skeleton
    Chris Douglas (age 23) / Paralympic sled hockey
    Jakob Ellingson (age 19) / Biathlon
    Gabe Ferguson (age 14) / Snowboarding
    Katrina Schaber (age 16) / Paralympic alpine skiing
    Nik Seemann (age 16) / Freestyle skiing
    Aaron Tran (age 17) / Short-track speedskating

    Tags: Olympics
  • On heels of Vancouver, Canadian Olympic movement grows

    Four years after Canada hosted the Vancouver Games, its Olympic committee is in the midst of transforming its business operations.

    Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Overholt, who joined the organization in 2011, has hired a new senior leadership team, doubled the size of its staff from 38 to 100 employees, expanded its sponsorship support and increased its licensing revenue.

    “(Vancouver CEO) John Furlong and his team saw the potential of what the Olympics could mean for the country,” Overholt said from his second-floor office at Canada House in Sochi. “It was a watershed. All we’ve been doing since is making sure that it wasn’t a wasted opportunity.”

    When the former Miami Dolphins chief marketer joined the COC, the organization was just exiting its joint-marketing agreement with the Vancouver Games. The agreement meant the national Olympic committee let the host city manage sponsorship sales in the market for seven years before the Games. They shared the revenue.

    Overholt hired one of Vancouver’s sales executives, Allison Walker, and they worked to retain some of Vancouver 2010’s sponsors. They renewed deals with Hudson’s Bay Co. (apparel), RBC (finance) and Bell (telecom). Then they added deals with Canadian Tire, Adidas and three USOC sponsors: BMW, USG and Hilton.

    “We looked at the United States and tried to think where can we go and say, ‘You can take a position around North America,’” Overholt said. He added that the combination of new and existing deals makes total sponsorship revenue greater than it was for the COC during the Vancouver Games. Sponsorship revenue is up 100 percent.

    “Two things happen in Olympic host nations after a Games,” Overholt said. “Government support stops, and the private sector has exhaustion around the Olympic movement. It was the opposite in our case. In the two or three years after Vancouver, we were able to grow the revenue from the private sector.”

    In addition to corporate support, Canadian Olympic sports also get government funding. The government started a non-profit program called “Own the Podium” before the Vancouver Games to fund Olympic hopefuls in their pursuit of medals. It’s continued to fund that since 2010.

    The most important corporate partners the COC has signed since Overholt arrived are Hudson’s Bay and Adidas. Hudson’s Bay develops apparel for the team, and Adidas develops footwear and performance apparel. The two have helped build the COC’s licensing business, which Overholt expects to be a $5 million to $10 million business annually in the coming years.

    “In Canada, that’s big business,” Overholt said. “That rivals major sports brands.”

    The COC has been aggressive in protecting its intellectual property in Canada ahead of the Sochi Games. It filed a lawsuit against The North Face for developing displays that the COC alleges violated its trademark rights. It also accused Budweiser and Labatt of ambush marketing.

    Overholt said that the COC started in a place of “reasonableness” with The North Face, but the company was unwilling to change what it was doing. In the case of Labatt and Budweiser, they didn’t violate rules, he said, but they did violate the spirit of the Canadian rights in the market.

    “Our job is to help our partners grow their business and grow sales,” Overholt said. “They make investments with us and we should protect those positions aggressively.”

    Tags: Olympics
  • Liberty Mutual creates 'instant' Sochi ad off Twitter feedback

    Amid the roughly 400 million tweets sent every day, it’s hard to believe that just one can lead to immediate marketing efforts by a Fortune 100 company. However, a tweet by former advertising executive Alex Bogusky about one of the more heartbreaking stories of the Sochi Games exemplified the world of instant advertising.

    Heidi Kloser, a 21-year-old moguls skier for Team USA, tore knee ligaments and broke her femur during a practice on Feb. 6, the day before Sochi’s opening ceremony. Kloser’s Olympic dream was suddenly over before it officially began.

    As she rode in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, Kloser turned to her mother, Emily, and asked if she was still an Olympian. “Of course you are,” her mother replied. The story quickly made headlines and was referenced during NBC’s broadcast of the opening ceremony on Feb. 7 as Kloser, on crutches, joined her teammates in the procession of nations.

    On Feb. 12, less than a week after Kloser’s injury, Bogusky tweeted, “love the @libertymutual olympic spots. It would be cool if they got this @heidikloser story on before the games are over.”

    “We saw that tweet and it was essentially the catalyst for the ad,” said Jenna Lebel, marketing director for Liberty Mutual. “I think it’s really important as a Team USA sponsor to have that real-time, always-on presence from a community management standpoint.”

    The Liberty Mutual marketing campaign during the Games centers on the theme of “rise,” highlighting comebacks from adversity by past U.S. Olympians. Kloser, who has returned home to Colorado and hopes to compete in the 2018 Winter Games, presented the insurance giant an opportunity to take advantage of a comeback in the making.

    “The courage she’s already shown to begin her comeback is truly what that ‘rise’ moment means,” Lebel said. “She’s already on the road to recovery so quickly after it happened and it’s just a testament of what it takes to be an Olympic athlete.”

    Ketchum Sports & Entertainment negotiated and secured Kloser to be a part of the campaign. She, along with her parents, appear in the 30-second spot, which was produced by Havas and filmed on Feb. 15. The ad is scheduled to air on NBC’s Wednesday night broadcast of the Sochi Games.

    “The ad itself is a real testament to the power of social media,” Lebel said. “We essentially created an ‘of-the-moment’ national broadcast ad.”

    Tags: Twitter, Media, Olympics
  • NBC Sports Network continues record pace

    NBC Sports Network set another audience record for the 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET window on Monday, which included live coverage of U.S. pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White's gold-medal-winning performance in ice dancing. The network has averaged 1.6 million viewers in the daytime window, giving NBC Sports Net six of its most-viewed weekday windows ever.

    Tags: NBC, Olympics
  • Visa’s congratulatory digital ads generate 14M interactions

    Visa caught everyone’s attention in 2008 when it aired a congratulatory ad for Michael Phelps the moment after he won his eighth gold medal at the Beijing Games. The immediacy of it generated talk among viewers and fellow sponsors.

    In Sochi, Visa has taken the concept of congratulating Olympians and digitized it. The company has a team spread across offices in Sochi, New York and San Francisco working to create congratulatory graphics and videos that it’s posting on Twitter, Facebook and Vine.

    The group in Sochi is working out of the Radisson Blu and includes some of the graphics people from Visa’s media agencies. They track events, make an image, send it to staff in New York for approval and then post it to Twitter’s official Twitter feed.

    It has done 20 celebratory posts for 12 athletes since the Games began. The posts collectively have garnered 14 million worldwide interactions — likes, retweets and other engagements.

    A graphic featuring Korean Olympian Lee Sang-hwa received 45,000 likes on Facebook; a Japan-signed Sara Takanashi image was one of the top-tweeted images in the country, with 4,425 retweets and 3,257 favorites; and a ski-jumping Vine video that the Visa team made was viewed more than 500,000 times.
    Visa On The Web
    216 earned media impressions
    14 million social and digital interactions
    15 million YouTube and Facebook video views

    It is the first time Visa has had a digital team devoted to developing content during the Games. For London, it developed most of its digital content before the Games began.

    Visa's digital ads, like after the U.S. sweep in men's ski slopestyle, have generated 14 million interactions online.
    “Our interaction was not as great (for London) as it is now,” said Ricardo Fort, Visa’s senior vice president, global sponsorship marketing. “If this is a 100, London was a 30 in terms of interaction.”

    Fort said that Visa didn’t consider social media a valuable brand-building tool at past Olympics. For Sochi, though, that’s where it concentrated its efforts and energy. He said it allows the brand to reach consumers and add to their enjoyment of the Games, which bolsters their appreciation of Visa.

    Shortly after the U.S. ski slopestyle team swept the podium, Visa posted an image that said “Star-Spangled Sweep” above three raised U.S. flags. The Visa logo is in the bottom corner. The image was retweeted more than 3,600 times. (To access the Twitter page: https://twitter.com/Visa/status/434174479380402176.)

    “When things happen, we’ve been fast to react,” Fort said. “What’s surprised me is I see a lot of what looks like pre-written content (from other sponsors and athletes). We’ve done a pretty good job of understanding what happens, and if the athlete wins or loses or country wins or loses, we are there with them.”

    Fort said the value of having a digital operation in Sochi was most evident the first week of the Games. More than 20 Japanese Visa customers who won trips to the Olympics weren’t able to leave for Sochi because of a snowstorm. They arrived on day three of a four-day trip. Takanashi signed a photo for them and Visa’s digital team got a picture of her doing the signing. It tweeted the image out, and it became one of the top-tweeted items in the country.

    “It was authentic,” Fort said. “It gave soul and heart to what’s happening here. These 20 Japanese guests will go back and tell everyone what happened, and the post amplifies what we do.”

    Tags: Visa, Media, Twitter, Facebook, Olympics
  • Podcast: Olympic bid expert Terrence Burns

    Terrence Burns of Teneo (left), who has lived and worked in Russia since 1992, with SBJ's Tripp Mickle
    SBJ's Tripp Mickle chats with Terrence Burns, managing director of Teneo and an expert on the Olympic bid process who helped Sochi secure the 2014 Winter Games. Burns, who has lived and worked in Russia since 1992, is also founder and former president of Helios Partners and a former executive with Meridian Management in the Olympic space. Among the highlights:

    "Russia has had a very difficult 20 years. And if you have not been here every month like I have for those 20 years, it's hard for you to imagine. … You can say it's a $51 billion exercise. How you do put a dollar figure on the pride of a country?"

    "The city in seven years has received an investment that should have been made over 70, but wasn't. … They've done it. They needed it. They built it. They didn't break any promises on what they were going to do for the Olympic Games, so it's time to stop hating on Russia."

    Tags: Russia, Olympics, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Jet Set navigates huge hospitality effort, expected challenges

    Jet Set Sports entertained 64,000 customers and worked with 14 hotels as part of its hospitality efforts in Sochi.
    Preparing for the Sochi Games was more challenging for Jet Set Sports than any Olympics since Athens.

    The company, which is the official hospitality supplier of Sochi 2014, has run hospitality programs at 17 Olympics. Its founder, Sead Dizdarevic, is accustomed to last-minute preparations. He had a hotel in Vancouver that his staff worked at for 24 straight hours to open in time for guests. But the size and scale of what Jet Set had to do in Sochi was greater than any other Olympics.

    Dizdarevic learned on Jan. 27 that three mountain hotels where he had reserved 150 rooms for corporate clients weren’t going to be finished in time. He knew he couldn’t do anything to get all three done in time, so he and his staff joined the hotel staff to try and finish one of them, the Solis.

    “The reason they were late was they were building three hotels simultaneously without sufficient labor,” Dizdarevic said. “They were disorganized. They jumped from place to place. We asked them to provide the labor and focus on a single hotel, the Solis, and we finished it in four days.”

    During the week before the Games, Jet Set’s staff installed television lines, internet service, adjusted thermostats, bought food and drinks for the mini-bars, and cleaned the rooms.

    A road that was supposed to reach the Solis, which is perched in the middle of a mountain resort, wasn’t completed and guests were going to have to take their luggage up a gondola to check in. Instead, Jet Set designed a system to ferry their luggage up and down the mountain.

    “These are normal growing pains of (new) hotels,” said Alan Dizdarevic, Sead’s son and Jet Set’s co-CEO. “When you’re under a tight timeline, there’s not room for growing pains. You have to become an adult overnight.”
    Jet Set Sports In Sochi
    607 employees
    64,000 individual customers
    30,000 corporate guests
    14 hotels utilized

    Jet Set was anticipating such problems at the Sochi Games. The construction effort here was greater than any previous Games. Not only was Sochi building venues for events, it was building more than 22,000 hotel rooms. Jet Set’s staff knew some of those wouldn’t be completed.

    Dizdarevic said they reserved 260 rooms at the Radisson in the established town of Sochi as a backup in case hotels weren’t done.

    “I was ready to move everybody down,” he said. “Tell them it won’t be finished. You won’t be in the mountains. You will be in the city.”

    But the work they did on the Solis allowed the company to avoid making that change, and Dizdarevic said that, while he’s not in the construction business, the company’s experience in Sochi has been better than its experience in London in 2012.

    During the London Games, the organizing committee required hospitality companies and sponsors to use a transportation company that it subcontracted. That company brought in drivers from outside London and they often got lost. Transportation was an issue for corporate guests throughout those Olympics, and that’s a key part of the guest experience. In Sochi that hasn’t been a problem.

    “Just go straight, you’ll run into the Olympic Park. Turn left and you go to the mountains,” Dizdarevic said. “That’s it. You can’t get lost.”

    Jet Set brought in five Michelin-caliber chefs from around the world to a restaurant it set up in Sochi.
    The corporate program Jet Set is running in Sochi for 30,000 guests is slightly larger than what it did in Turin in 2006, when it had 26,000 guests. In addition to arranging accommodations and transport for companies, it took over a restaurant in Sochi and brought in five Michelin-caliber chefs from around the world. It’s also running a restaurant in the mountains, and a 25,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge on the Olympic Park for guests.

    The restaurant in the Park has been key because there aren’t a lot of other options. There are three concession stands that serve beer and one restaurant. Benches are scattered around where people can sit between events.

    The big question in Sochi is who’s going to fill the 47,000 new hotel rooms that were built for the Olympics after the Games end. Dizdarevic believes that people from Russia and Europe will start coming in the next three to five years.

    “How many times can you go to Whistler or Vail or Courchevel or Kitzbuhel?” Dizdarevic said. “People travel a lot these days. They say, ‘I want to go skiing or I want to go on a summer vacation.’ This is a new playground, a little village, slopes.”

    But that’s not where Jet Set is focused now. It’s focused on Rio 2016.

    Dizdarevic said that corporate demand for those Games is greater than London in 2012. More than a third of his business is booked, and it’s two and a half years before the opening ceremony.

    “In London, everyone had to be there,” Alan Dizdarevic said. “For Rio, everyone wants to be there.”

    Tags: Olympics, Russia
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