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Volume 20 No. 42
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Oakley extends with USOC through 2020

Oakley hasn’t experienced its first Olympics as an official supplier of Team USA, but early returns on its investment convinced the brand to renew its agreement through 2020.

Financial terms of the eight-year extension were not available, but sources said it offers the U.S. Olympic Committee both cash and value-in-kind support. Oakley, which signed its first USOC agreement in the fall of 2010, will remain the official eyewear supplier of Team USA.

International Olympic Committee rules prohibit non-Olympic sponsors from featuring Olympians in advertising in the weeks prior to, during and after the Games. By signing a long-term agreement with the USOC, Oakley ensures it can promote its roster of marquee Olympians in their respective Summer and Winter Games, including American track star Lolo Jones, beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh, decathlete Bryan Clay, snowboarder Shaun White and skier Lindsey Vonn.

“We’ve always looked at the relationship with the USOC as both an obligation and an opportunity,” said Scott Bowers, Oakley’s senior vice president of global marketing and brand development. “As a small company, it was fine to work with Olympic athletes behind the scenes, but eventually we got big enough to where it became almost like ambush marketing. That’s when it became an opportunity for us to leverage the U.S. team marks, develop sunglasses and give back to the USOC.”

Oakley released a signature line of sunglasses last year and launched its “Beyond Reason” campaign in April for the London Games. The campaign involves commissioning artists to do paintings of Oakley athletes that capture what drives those athletes to succeed. The company will show the art in London on July 26, the day before the start of the 2012 Games. It is using “Beyond Reason” as a tag line in its Olympic marketing, as well.

Bowers said Oakley will launch a social media initiative during the Games. The company will host its athletes at a hospitality venue in London that it’s calling the Oakley Safe House. It will be a place where athletes can come and relax during the Olympics, and the company plans to have a website that bears the same name where it aggregates Twitter feeds and perspective from its athletes about the Olympics.

Details on that effort will be announced at a later date.