Would you be surprised to hear that children lining the athletes parade route through Olympic Park in London were advised to wear "comfortable, unbranded or adidas shoes"? A bit biased, you say? Okay, lots of sporting events are used to promote brands. The Olympics, perhaps, more than most. But brand advisories?
So no surprise that the publicly funded Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is hard at work to ensure that brands that are not "official sponsors" of the games do not gain financially – or otherwise – by an association with the games. And the ODA is ready for some imaginative ambush marketing forays. The regulations allow them to police areas up to 200 meters around a venue. Oh and skies above these venues too. Talk about "air rights"! And any water, like the sailing events at Weymouth.
Nike – not an official Olympic sponsor – has a new YouTube ad that promotes athletes in towns around the world named "London." Get it? They're not actually saying the 2012 London Olympics, but subliminally and emotionally you can't avoid linking the brand to the city and, thus, the event. Oh, FYI, adidas paid around $60 million for their official brand status.
So does this all pay off? As official sponsor or as ambusher? Here's how the athletic footwear brands currently rank in terms of engagement and loyalty, according to our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, which, we'd like to point out to the officials at the ODA, has nothing to do with the Olympics:
Olympic host cites depend on official sponsorships to raise money to stage the games, so they've created groups like the ODA to seek out ambush marketers and punish them. Penalties can be as high as $31,228.74. That's according to today's pound-to-dollar exchange rate.
Is it worth it? Well back at the 1984 summer games Nike ran ads of athletes with the Randy Newman song "I Love LA" as the soundtrack. After the games, research found that consumers thought Nike was the official sponsor – not Converse, who was the official sponsor.
Today, all we can offer in terms of consolation to those official sponsors worrying about those clever non-sponsors is a passage from the Bible. Joshua 8:7, "Then ye shall rise up from the ambush and seize upon the city."
Which in this case means London (England) and the surrounding Olympic environs.