Saturday, June 7, 2008

Olympic Marketing: Carrying the logo

Olympic sponsorship allows companies to display the Olympic logo on their product labels and advertising. The ideals of the Olympics are passed onto the product or so marketing executives would have us believe. This is thought to enhance sales in demographics keen to be affiliated with the event. Referred to as "The big ticket" marketing the cost to companies runs into millions to use the logo. Where the product is related directly to the sporting activities is the most obvious and sports apparel and shoes are clamber to be associated which acts as a powerful marketing tool. The advantage of Olympic association makes it difficult for competitors unable or unwilling to invest in official sponsorship. Some brand leaders use competitor endorsement as a form of ambush marketing. This is a clever ploy by companies, not directly associated with the event, but able to advertise in close association. Research has shown provided the consumer thinks there is a connection, the products sell as well as if they were official. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) actively discourages ambush marketing to protect the rights of official sponsors and have introduced new strong measures to clampdown on violations of Olympics related patents, trademarks and copyrights during the August8-24 Games. Under the new ruling all non sponsors’ advertisements featuring participants in the Beijing Olympics which includes athletes, coaches and officials will be suspended form the games. The China Advertising Association have also urged all Chinese advertising agencies and their 1.1 million employees to respect the new Olympic marketing rules and guard against ambush marketing. From July 11 to Sept 17, all prominent advertising sites in Beijing, including those at the airport, railway stations, main streets and areas around Olympic venues will be controlled and priority given to official Olympic sponsors. Similar to Athens as a condition of spectator entry if a row of spectators is found to be wearing the same logo on their clothes at a Beijing Olympic venue, they will be asked to conceal the brand names. Similar to Athens people will not be allowed to take drinks into venues and once inside will be able to buy only Coca-Cola, the global partner of the International Olympic Committee.adidas is a formal sponsor of the Games but many athletes are sponsored by rival companies like Nike. In the event a competitor wins wearing rival footwear they are obliged to collect their medals sporting adidas trainers. According to Wetzel (2000) shoe companies now use the teenage market to drive the multi billion dollar industry. In the past superstar endorsement, such as Nike and Mike Jordan has proven a winning partnership however companies are targeting younger players, reaching deep into high schools, even junior high in the hope of finding enduring talents. Marketing experts believe shoes are better sold at the "grass-roots" level by young basketball stars seen wearing the company's products. Nike, Adidas and Reebok sponsor some 280 high school teams and 180 summer-league teams in the US, plus dozens of camps and tournaments. Companies never disclose their annual promotional budgets the free shoes, apparel and travel are believed to run well into the millions. Critics say shoe companies have created a system that preys on youth ambition. At a recent adidas annual general meeting groups including Reporters Without Borders claimed companies sponsoring the Games are linking their brand with human rights violations in China, and some members of the German Olympic team were planning to wear protest armbands with the slogan "Sport for Human Rights" at the Games. adidas, Volkswagen and Puma, which is not an official partner but does supply equipment to participants, say they have so far seen no damage to their brands from the protests. Howeve adidas, which depends on Asia for about one-quarter of its annual sales of €7.2 billion, or $11.2 billion, cannot rule out a negative effect in the future.

Reference
Wetzel D Yaeger D 2000 Sole influence: Basketball, corporate greed, and the corruption of America’s youth Warner Books

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