With 1.3 billion people living in China – and with that number soon to reach 1.4 billion – the Olympics are also a competition in consumerism. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal says that China’s sportswear market is projected to increase it’s 90% in 2009, and may reach $7.2 billion.
The main contenders:
- Nike – one of two official apparel sponsors of the US Olympic Team (Nike will be worn during competition and Ralph Lauren will dress the athletes in Polo for the opening and closing ceremonies)
- Adidas – the official sportswear sponsor of the 2008 Games (and parent company of Reebok)
The competition is physically changing the landscape of China, with Adidas opening its largest retail store in the world in Beijing last month. It’s a 10,000-square-foot glass, rectangular building. And it’s located directly in front of a new Nike store. Adidas is expected to open an additional 1,000 stores across China this year. (I took photos of the Adidas store but deleted them off my camera when I submitted our scavenger hunt brand “sightings” – you could lose up to five points for each “wrong” sponsor.)
Both athletic giants have also created ad campaigns to help grow the Chinese and Olympic markets. Most ads go the “inspirational route” and will debut in the US on August 8. They include:
- Nike’s “Courage” campaign, which launched on Asian television in mid-July. It features still photography and music by The Killers. The campaign has been described as “a mosaic of ‘Just do it’ moments” and celebrates the 20th anniversary of the famous tagline. I didn’t embed the video – so make sure you visit the campaign site (linked again here). It has an interesting execution… To the left and right of the video screen, small squares of athletes’ photos “illuminate” as they are featured in the ad. After the video you can click on the individual athletes to learn more about their careers and courageous moments.
- Following traditional Chinese values, Adidas ads focus on how many people it takes to make an Olympic dream possible. The campaign is called “Together in 2008, Impossible is Nothing.”Interestingly, the “Together in 2008″ half of the campaign is highlighted more heavily in China, while “Impossible in Nothing” is emphasized more strongly in the US.
- And Reebok, a division of Adidas, used it’s in-house marketing team to create TV ads featuring Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Vince Young.
The New York Times reported that these companies are also appealing to the Chinese:
- Official sponsor McDonald’s created a “Cheer for China” television campaign. See it on You Tube here.
- Pepsi painted its cans red for a limited edition “Go Red for China” promotion.
Because Pepsi is NOT an official sponsor (and Coca-Cola is), I can’t get to the You Tube videos of Pepsi’s “Go Red” campaign while I’m in China.
The Chinese government placed restrictions on non-sponsor advertising in an effort to protect sponsor companies’ investments. Sponsorships are said to have cost $65 million and up.
These restrictions are common and often lead to ambush marketing tactics which, honestly, just might be more fun to watch…