PYEONGCHANG: As the Winter Olympics start, participating brands appear less worried about potential security issues in Korea than the challenges posed by geography and the weather.

“There is a big concern about [the] Games venue: it is far away from Seoul in a different area in Korea,” said Hun Sik Yoon, Coca-Cola’s Olympic General Manager.

“We have found our consumers and our targets are not much available to go to visit the venue cities,” he told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “So we are executing some showcasing of Coca-Cola in Seoul” - including a giant vending machine in the Hongdae district.

For executions at Olympic venues there have been some problems posed by the weather, as temperatures have fallen to as low as -14°C limiting the amount of time staff and crew can spend outside.

Some brands have chosen to avoid pop-up shops or social gatherings because of the cold.

The nature of executions may start to change in any case as observers have noted that the Winter Olympics attracts a different, younger audience to its summer counterpart, especially since its adoption of snowboarding events, with sponsors likely to focus on innovations around mobile and tech.

Samsung, one of the global sponsors, has offered a special edition smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition to visiting IOC officials and all athletes (apart from those from North Korea and Iran for fear of breaching UN sanctions).

“The Winter Olympics, while still maintaining the highest sports standards, probably contains greater elements of ‘fun’ and certainly contain a higher ‘risk’ factor than many of the sports in the Summer Games,” according to sports sponsorship consultant Nigel Currie.

While global Olympic sponsors like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and McDonald’s are all present in Pyeongchang, he suggested to Marketing Week that the International Olympic Committee ought to rethink its fee structure which, while effective at maximising returns for the organisers, has made it difficult for new, young brands to gain entry.

“But the Winter Olympics is better placed to do this than the Summer Games," he added.

“If, for example, a unique and exclusive platform could be developed for social media, it would be very attractive and there are other product category ‘gaps’ that will be filled in the next round of negotiations.”

Sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Marketing Week, Korea Bizwire; additional content by WARC staff