Why These Brands Get the Olympic Gold


awardwinner.jpgADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — The Beijing Olympic Games are scheduled to start at 8:08 p.m. on the 8th day of the 8th month in 2008. They have generated approximately $1.5 billion by brands to be official sponsors of the Games as well as supporters of the individual teams.

This year the corporate sponsors have been getting some harsh criticism from international human rights activists that say that their involvement basically endorses China’s human rights record. However, Worldwide Olympic Game sponsors such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Kodak and Visa are all back at it this year. Chinese regulators have put limits on the amount of exposure non-Olympic Sponsors can receive through state-run TV during the Olympics and on outdoor billboards – though the opening ceremony of this year’s Games is expected to be the first sporting event to every draw more than 1 billion TV viewers.

Here’s what a few of the top U.S. brand sponsors are doing this year.

Kodak Embraces Social Media and Web 2.0

Following this year’s closing ceremonies Kodak unfortunately will conclude it’s sponsorship as the Worldwide Official Imaging Sponsor which has been a sponsor for the past 100+ years. The announcement made earlier this year brought back memories for me of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games in which I got heavily involved in creating and executing promotions for Kodak. It was then that I realized what a huge marketing event the Olympic Games are.

During that year Kodak not only promoted their worldwide sponsorship, but also supported the individual sports, national governing bodies (NGB’s). The strategy was to assign an individual sport to a specific retailer and develop exclusive promotions for them. I was leading the agency team at the time working with Kodak on this program which resulted in 73 different account-specific promotional campaigns for about 33 different retailers that included Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, Walgreen’s, Wegmans, Kroger, Safeway, Eckerd Drug and Revco. Many of these included sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to attend the Games.

I learned an extraordinary amount that year about working with the Olympic Committee and the NGB’s as well as the differences and individual needs of these retailers. All those promotions were communicated mostly through in-store merchandising and some with additional retail newspaper advertising. Nothing existed online at all and that was just 12 years ago. Think about how different it is today: not only have advertising and promotions moved online, but the coverage of the games has as well.

Kodak has been one of big brands setting the gold standard in the new world of social media and Web 2.0. This year they’ve sent Jenny Cisney, Kodak’s “Chief Blogger” to Beijing who is sharing with us the fan experience, as well as the sights and sounds, culture, etc. from the Games through Kodak’s blog, www.1000Words.com. Kodak also sent Richard Mackson, a professional photographer who is posting photos from the games, and Tom Hoehn who is reporting on how Kodak products are supporting the Games. Hopefully all their reports will make it to us and won’t get blocked by the restrictions that the Chinese Government has placed on Internet access.

Before Tom left for China he stated, “I am personally looking forward to these Games. This will be my fifth and Jenny’s first. I think the mix of perspectives will provide for some interesting posts. These Games will be like none other in history and we hope to share a Kodak perspective which will of course include tons of great pictures.”

It’s really bittersweet watching these games and knowing that it’s Kodak’s last year covering them as an official sponsor. I just hope the images of the Games will continue to be chronicled in the same high quality, professional way that Kodak has done for the past 100 years.

NBC Universal Cross-Promotes Games and The Mummy

NBC Universal created a marketing first this year with an integrated campaign that promotes both the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games along with a major summer theatrical movie release.

NBC, “America’s Olympic Network,” which owns the exclusive U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games through 2012, and Universal Studios, part of NBC Universal and the studio behind “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” has developed what it calls it’s “most comprehensive synergistic effort ever” to promote these two August events.

NBC first launched this combo campaign back on July 1st with an innovative co-branded TV spot in which they utilized top assets from both their TV and movie studio side. The piece features settings and characters from “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” along with Olympic athletes that are seamlessly blended in sequences in which the action from the film transforms into Olympic events. (The connection of course is that most of the action in The Mummy takes place in China and the Beijing Olympic Games are also in China).

The TV spots will continue through the end of August. “The Mummy” hit theaters on Aug. 1. On July 18th, an extended 2:30-minute preview started running in NCM theaters nationwide which is also being featured on in-park screens and Astrovisions at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios, on screens in 235 college campuses, at the NBC Experience Store at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, on NBC Wireless Networks’ NBCNews2Go, NBC.com, NBCOlympics.com and other NBC Web sites and in over 4,700 New York taxis through the NY10 Taxi Entertainment Network.

The extended version can be viewed on YouTube. Check it out, it’s pretty cool. This year NBC is scheduled to carry an unprecedented 2,200 hours of coverage streamed live online at NBCOlympics.com.

Coca-Cola’s Integrated Campaign Targets the Chinese

Coca-Cola is again a top sponsor of the Olympic Games and the longest-running corporate supporter going back to 1928 (Eastman Kodak would have been but they missed one year). They’ve created a series of new Olympic advertising, marketing, promotions and interactive activities that center around the theme of unity, cultural connections, and the celebration of Olympic Spirit worldwide.

The Coca-Cola China Olympic programs use the Mandarin expression “Shuang,” which means complete physical, emotional and spiritual refreshment, to describe the tremendous passion, pride and excitement felt by all Chinese as hosts of the 2008 Olympic Games.

“The common theme in all these Coca-Cola initiatives is to celebrate the global connections and magic that occurs when the world comes together in friendship at the Olympic Games this summer here in China.” said Kevin Tressler, Director, Worldwide Sports and Entertainment Marketing for Coca-Cola.

Three new TV commercials have launched in China around the games. One is titled “Shuang City” which transforms Beijing into an Olympic playground, featuring Olympic basketball athlete Yao Ming. You can see the ad here on YouTube as well as a behind-the-scenes look at its making along with the other two TV ads, “Bird’s Nest” and “Yao and LeBro.

Three Global and local China brand promotions and contests have also been launched:

• WE8: A unique global program, which unites eight Chinese artists with eight progressive musicians from around the world to interpret the ideas and passions that connect people, creating a series of Coca-Cola contour bottle designs and music tracks.
• Win a Dream Day With the Star Team: A promotional contest that invites Chinese consumers to go online and enter unique codes from Coca-Cola products. Several lucky consumers will win the opportunity to spend the day with the Coca-Cola Olympic Star Team that includes athletes Liu Xiang, Guo Jing Jing, Zhao Rui Rui and Wang Li Qin.
• Delicious Happiness is what the Chinese characters of Coca-Cola literally translate to. More than 150 countries have launched special Coca-Cola packs with the Chinese characters logo during the Games.

For the first time in the U.S., the cans, bottles and packages are featuring the Coca-Cola script in different languages with 14 unique designs. Languages for the cans and fridge packs include Ethiopian, Russian, Thai and Mandarin. New can designs are appearing every two to three weeks. Coke’s 20-ounce plastic bottles feature labels with languages from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Korea, Nepal and Sri Lanka and also have English versions.

In addition, Coke is featuring a “six pack” of athletes, including swimmer Natalie Coughlin and basketball star LeBron James, on packaging and in advertising.

Three new interactive programs are being launched or expanded off of iCoke.cn:

• Coca-Cola Virtual Olympic Torch Relay: In partnership with Tencent’s QQ instant messaging service, a Virtual Torch Relay taking place online across China which had 57 million participants back on July 7th.
• Coca-Cola Olympic Photo Montage: A collaborative photo experience where more than 17 million photos that has been contributed by Chinese consumers to make the largest Olympic photo in history.
• Design the World, a Coke Interactive Tool: Allows consumers to design their own bottle online and then combine their creation with the designs of other consumers from around the world. Last look I took there were 57,808 bottles designed worldwide, 4,905 submitted by the U.S. with Korea way in the country lead with over 23,000.

Three Beijing “Shuang” venues are opening during the Games to welcome consumers from China and abroad:

• The Shuang Experience Center at the Olympic Green features interactive exhibits, games, contests and other opportunities to participate in the Olympics for visitors at the Olympic Green.
• Two Shuang Zones at The Place and at Chao Yang Park feature interactive exhibits, music, Olympic pin trading, an opportunity to be photographed holding a real Olympic Torch and a daily “Golden Moments” party at 8:08 p.m. at The Place where medal-winning athletes, celebrities and consumers come together to celebrate the day’s events and cheer for the China team.

David Brooks, VP, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Project Group of Coca-Cola (China) said “Shuang City is the crowning glory of Coca-Cola’s Olympic journey in 2008. Our goal has always been to bring the unity and passion of the Games to the people of China and the world.”

McDonald’s Uses Olympic Sponsorship to Build Worldwide Brand

McDonald’s has been a partner of the Games for 40 years and as the Official Restaurant of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing they are in charge of feeding the athletes. McDonald’s Ex VP and Global Chief Marketing Officer is Mary Dillon leads the company’s worldwide marketing efforts and global brand strategy across 118 countries. Mary has spearheaded McDonald’s biggest Olympic sponsorship to date which includes everything from new menu items, interactive promotions that include a new employee video contest, a youth well-being program and a global online game.

The McDonald’s Olympic Champion Crew program is a longstanding McDonald’s Olympic tradition that recognizes and rewards its top restaurant employees.

• 1,400 of McDonald’s employees from around the world are in Beijing to serve both the athletes and spectators at McDonald’s four new Olympic venue restaurants.
• To celebrate their skills and the Olympic ideals of teamwork and excellence they’re hosting a Big Mac Building competition during a press event on August 7.
• These McDonald’s restaurant all-stars are also competing to assemble the highest quality Big Mac sandwiches. This year to tie in with the user-generated video contest trend, the Olympic Spirit of McDonald’s Video Contest invited the

Crew to create a short video that tells their own story and experience and expresses their Olympic spirit. The finalists’ videos are posted on McDonald’s Web site where the public is invited to vote for their favorites. Of the 22 finalists, only one is from the USA. The winning videos will receive medals and up to $2,500.

Mary’s other accomplishments include the formation of the company’s first Global Moms Advisory Panel and innovation in the area of children’s well-being.

The McDonald’s Champion Kids program is part of this commitment which engages young people in worldwide in activities that focus on body, mind and spirit.

More than 200 kids from 40 countries are in Beijing for an opportunity to experience the Games, meet athletes, visit the Olympic Village and see the wonders of China.

• Countries determined their participant selection process through a combination of physical, mental and verbal skills activities.
• Many of the kids will also act as youth correspondents reporting their stories and experiences back to their hometown media outlets.

McDonald’s earlier this year launched a global alternate reality game called The Lost Ring in collaboration with world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, interactive marketer AKQA and the International Olympic Committee. In it players work online and offline to find 27 artifacts hidden all over the world and solve the mystery. I originally wrote about the game on my blog, Donna’s Promo Talk, back in April after I heard USA CMO, Neil Golden, talk about McDonald’s promotional marketing programs. The game now includes a new blogger, Track and Field Olympic Gold Medalist Edwin Moses. McDonald’s will make a $100,000 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities Earthquake Relief in China.

On Aug. 2, McDonald’s launched a new Web site in the U.S., FacetheGlory.com, where it is playing up its Southern Style Chicken Sandwich with Olympic newcomer BMX athlete Donnie Robinson. The company is featuring Robinson on the site to highlight the sport’s entrance at the Games this year. A viral marketing component is included where visitors are able to superimpose athletes’ pictures and send them virally on to friends.

So remember: support all the brands that sponsor this year’s Beijing Summer Olympic Games – not just your favorite team. These brands pay a huge price to be official sponsors and without their support these games could not take place.


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