Going for the gold

Thanks to CPG manufacturer support for U.S. Olympic Teams everyone—including retailers and consumers—is a winner.

This summer, fans of the Olympics are going to be rooting and rejoicing from couches and sports bars and from supermarket aisles too, thanks to the efforts being put together by the consumer packaged goods manufacturers that are serving as official Olympics sponsors.

According to the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based United States Olympic Committee (USOC), worldwide sponsors include The Coca-Cola Co. and Procter & Gamble. U.S. sponsors with a supermarket presence include Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser, Chobani Greek Yogurt, Kellogg Co. and Bimbo Bakeries with its Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat breads. Topps is an official licensee of Olympian and Paralympian trading cards and trading card games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is one of the few Olympic committees in the world that does not receive any government funding or tax subsidies, says Lindsay Hogan, a USOC spokesperson.

“The organization relies on the generosity of sponsors and private donors to fund its Olympic athletes, so every dollar counts,” Hogan says. “Sponsors and themed products help raise money for athlete training, coaching, equipment, travel, medical care, insurance and other needs. They also help generate awareness and excitement for the Olympic Games and for following the stories of America’s athletes. Themed products put the athletes’ names and faces in the marketplace and in the home, familiarizing the American public with their Olympic Team and inspiring them to follow the Olympic Games and support Team USA.”

And that is exactly what the sponsors of the 2012 Summer Games are looking to do.
“We are really excited that we’ve been able to craft some strong partnerships with other Olympic-sponsor companies and our customers to do some great shop/marketing events,” says Doug VandeVelde, senior vice president, Morning Foods, Kellogg Co., based in Battle Creek, Mich. “Particularly with Coke and P&G, we have great activation events that we are bringing to life through a lot of big customers, such as Kroger.”

At Kellogg the theme is “From Great Starts Come Great Things.” Kicking off in April, a rotation of eight athletes began appearing on boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. In addition, back panels across 15 different Kellogg’s cereals will feature the Team USA Kellogg’s Athletes. “The Olympics is a time where the world really focuses on the finish, but at Kellogg’s we champion the start for all of the potential it embodies,” VandeVelde says. “It is the start of your day, the start of your Olympic career and the role that breakfast can play in all of that.”

Chobani Greek Yogurt is also fueling U.S. athletes as a first-time Olympics sponsor.
“We like to say that we are naturally powering Team USA,” says Niel Sandfort, director of marketing for Norwich, N.Y.-based Chobani. “We are shipping product to all of the training facilities and we will also be supplying our product to athletes in London as they have training there and we will be available at the Elite Training Facility in London. We are very proud of the fact that athletes show a lot of excitement about having Chobani available to them when they are in training mode. Chobani is a good fit for athletes because it is so high in protein, delicious and satisfying,” he says.

Chobani is sponsoring this year’s Summer Games in London, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. “The sponsorship allows us to put the official Olympic rings on our packaging and other owned assets and also in our media and communications. We will have the Olympic Rings on our vehicles, including our ChoMobile, which is our sampling vehicle. The Olympics will be part of our social media, our dot.com, everything,” Sandfort says.

As part of its support of Team USA, Coca-Cola has developed an interactive program asking people to submit photos and well-wishes online for a chance to be featured on the Coca-Cola billboard in Times Square.

“For the upcoming London 2012 Olympic Games, we’ll be activating our largest program ever across all channels—large store, small store, on premise and food service,” says Dina Gerson, sports marketing director for the Olympics for Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Co. “Our national program will feature two phases of activation including point-of-sale, premiums, packaging, multicultural overlay, our Coca-Cola 8-pack of athletes, comprehensive media/digital/social programs and an Olympic Torch Relay program.

“Strong multicultural overlays will expand the breadth of our activation with Hispanic and African-American consumers, a first compared to previous Olympic Games activation,” Gerson adds.

The Times Square billboard is enabling the company to extend its marketing outreach in what has been described as “the first truly social Games,” Gerson says.

Music is another key component to Coca-Cola’s 2012 program. “The most social part of music is the beat,” Gerson says. “Sport has a beat, Coke has a beat, London has a beat and the soundtrack to teen’s life is a beat,” Gerson says. “For London 2012, Coke will motivate family shoppers and teens to move together to the beat. For teens this manifests itself by creating moments of social connection around movement. Coke will bring teens closer to the Olympic Games experience by making it a fun, social and tangible experience leveraging UTC, mobile, gaming and experiential activation.”

Aluminum beer bottles
Budweiser has been an Olympic supporter since 1984, when the brand served as the official beer sponsor of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. The brand is extending its exclusive malt beverage sponsorship at least through 2016. This year its sponsorship includes five U.S. Olympic hopefuls: Tony Azevedo, water polo; Jordan Burroughs, wrestling; Hyleas Fountain and Leo Manzano, track and field;  and Sarah Groff, triathlon. All will be featured on point-of-sale materials and will introduce a limited edition Olympic-themed 16-ounce bottle in June.

“Special commemorative aluminum bottles in a 15-pack and in some regions a 6-pack will be available for sales to retailers on June 6 and will continue throughout the Olympics,” says Rob McCarthy, vice president, Budweiser, at St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch.

“Budweiser is America’s iconic beer and it’s a perfect fit for us to support America’s athletes,” McCarthy says. “We are also running a test-to-win sweepstakes for consumers, where legal, to win a trip to the U.S. Olympic training center in Colorado. There’ll be POS material available to our wholesalers to support this effort—such as special package inserts, banners, signs, etc.”

The Olympics sponsorship is one part of Budweiser’s “Red, White and Blue Summer,” McCarthy says, as the company is highlighting a conversion to red, white and blue cans and bottles that began in May. “The limited-edition aluminum Olympics bottle is sure to be very popular with consumers and Budweiser lovers and presents retailers with an opportunity for incremental floor displays to celebrate some of America’s Olympic hopefuls,” he says.

The Procter & Gamble Co.’s Olympic sponsorship runs through 2020 and includes the Thank You Mom campaign, which launched in April and is the biggest marketing initiative in the company’s 175 year history, says Glenn Williams, external relations manager at Cincinnati-based P&G.

“The Thank You Mom campaign includes 26 categories and 34 P&G brands,” he says. “We feel this sponsorship builds positive equity with shoppers since 56% of shoppers say sponsors ‘deserve my business.’ Our sponsorship includes support of 28 Team USA athletes, whom consumers will see in advertising for P&G brands and the company.”
Participating P&G brands will amplify Olympics signage and be included in special displays, Williams says. “Our marketing plan will consist of TV/radio advertising, PR, digital social media, print advertising, Hispanic targeted programs and major FSCI support before and during the Olympics,” he says.

“Our Olympics sponsorship represents an outstanding opportunity for retailers to uniquely tie in with the program, connect with their shoppers and develop unprecedented levels of store execution and sales,” Williams says. “In addition, the P&G Olympic Games sponsorship offers a unique, engaging and heartfelt way to engage with shoppers.”

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