The Beijing Games were China’s coming out party. But they were also experiential marketing’s most spectacular appearance yet at an Olympics. The sponsor pavilions on and around the Olympic Green served as semi-permanent brand showcases that wowed the fans with product displays and corporate messaging designed to show who they are and why they were there. From the Big Macs being served up at the four McDonald’s restaurants on site to the GE aircraft at its Imagination Center and the Terracotta Warriors featured by Johnson & Johnson each was as unique as the sponsor itself. The experience provided an interesting counterpoint to the competition of the games and a chance to make an Olympic-sized consumer connection in this important and emerging country. Here’s a look at how some of the top sponsors leveraged the experience.
KODAK’S OLYMPIC PICTURES
As official imaging partner of the games Kodak technology was used to create accreditation badges for thousands of athletes officials journalists and volunteers; provide on-site printing and publishing and support for thousands of photojournalists and news agencies with traditional and digital photographic products and services; and outfit a diagnostic center to treat athlete injuries. For spectators wishing to capture their own Olympic memories the Kodak Experience on the Olympic Green offered product demonstrations and self-service kiosks where they could print pictures from digital cameras or mobile phones. They could enhance their photos with Olympic-themed borders create personalized souvenir photo books and pose against an Olympic-themed backdrop for an instant-print Olympic souvenir photo. Those at home could visit kodak.com/go/olympics for an Olympic Picture of the Day a photo tour of Beijing and daily posts on Kodak’s blogs.
McDONALD’S SERVES UP AN OLYMPIC CREW
The lines were long but the fries were just as tasty as the ones back home at McDonald’s the official restaurant of the games which had four sites on the Olympic grounds—one in the Village serving the athletes one serving the journos at the Main Press Center and two for the hungry masses. McDonald’s employees around the world competed for the honor of joining McDonald’s Olympic Champion Crew a team of 1 200 Chinese employees and an additional 128 others from 34 countries that manned the restaurants and got to view the games and experience Chinese culture first-hand. They showed off their talents and won the first “medals” of the games in a Big Mac building competition held the day before the official games began. The crew sent video messages to co-workers back home via a special Crew Cam. Besides the employees 300 McDonald’s Champion Kids including 100 from 32 cities across China attended the games met athletes and visited cultural spots.
OMEGA KEEPS OLYMPIC TIME ON-PACE
The official timekeeper at 23 Olympic games since 1932 Omega’s timing measurement and display technologies were ticking throughout 28 different sports at 37 venues with 450 on-site professional timekeepers 420 tons of equipment 70 public scoreboards and 322 sport-specific scoreboards. Countdown clocks in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and in Lausanne Switzerland kept track of the hours minutes and seconds until the games began. On the Olympic Green Omega’s 2 500-square-meter pavilion served as a product showroom and retail outlet and was the scene for appearances by brand ambassadors and athletes such as gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps sprinter Tyson Gay and gymnast Li Ning. The pavilion also served as a backdrop for the announcement of a special collection of 35 Omega watches the Unique No. 8 to be auctioned off in October by Sotheby’s to benefit the Chinese Athletes Education Foundation and young athletes in regions of China ravaged by earthquakes earlier this year.
LENOVO SAYS HELLO TO THE ENTIRE WORLD
As the designers of the Olympic Torch and provider of more than 10 000 pieces of computer equipment to the Olympics Lenovo had a great story to tell in its pavilion on the Olympic Green which was the Chinese company’s chance to introduce itself as a global brand. Even as visitors queued to enter the museum-like structure they were given a video introduction to Lenovo’s relationship with the Olympic Torch and its design. Inside they learned all about the making of and anatomy of the torch and were given an opportunity to take a picture with the torch in front of either the Great Wall the Bird’s Nest or the Water Cube. A wristband received while in line allowed visitors to view their picture on kiosks at the end of the tour and print the picture in a branded frame. In the Infinity room a multimedia presentation gave visitors a look at all the ways Lenovo supports the Olympics. Next up visitors got a chance to see a variety of Lenovo products and to try out features of the products by playing games. For instance the company’s active protection system (APS) basically works as an airbag for laptops that protects the hard drive in case of a fall. It responds as a motion detector so it was combined with a flash-based game to create a virtual track meet. Visitors picked up a laptop and as they tilted it the APS would speed the runner up while moving side to side kept the runner within his lane. Visitors also tried out the company’s Veriface product which takes facial scans for security purposes. Scans could be put through a pop art filter and the fun pictures could be sent by email to family and friends right from the pavilion. VIP and hospitality rooms were available upstairs while outside entertainment including stilt walkers street magicians and acrobats created a spectacle throughout the day and night. Agency: George P. Johnson Detroit
COKE CREATES OLYMPIC BRAND CONNECTION
Coke’s activation was nearly as big as the Olympics itself. Built around the theme Live Olympic on the Coke Side of Life Coke hosted events in Beijing and China’s six co-host cities. The experience began with One-Year-to-Go celebrations in August 2007 followed by a 2008 New Year Shuang (which in Mandarin means physical emotional and spiritual refreshment) countdown party in Beijing. As presenting partner of the Olympic Torch Relay Coke generated two million torch bearer nominations under the theme Who Inspires Me? resulting in nearly 300 million votes for 938 torchbearers and 250 escort runners for the three-month relay (Ignition Atlanta handled the relay).
The 4 000-square-meter Coca-Cola Shuang Experience Center on the Olympic Green drew more than 10 000 visitors daily for celebrations of China a history and display of Olympic torches throughout the years telecasts of the games and Live Positively Awards bestowed each day to worthy individuals. A Show My Hometown to the World folk art contest showcased 34 designs on two-meter-high three-dimensional Coke bottles. Olympic pin trading interactive games athlete and celebrity appearances and nightly parties added to the fun. At the Shuang Center downtown fans could remix Western-themed pieces of music inspired by Eastern art have their photo taken with a replica of the torch and decorate Coke bottles with limited-edition labels.
And those who couldn’t make it to Beijing experienced it digitally at icoke.cn where more than 57 million participated in a virtual torch relay uploaded 17 million photo images and listened to “Red Around the World ” an anthem commissioned by Coke to celebrate the games and the Chinese people.
Agencies: Momentum Worldwide New York City; EWI Worldwide Livonia MI
JOHNSON & JOHNSON CELBRATES THE CULTURE
Of all the sponsor pavilions this was perhaps the most authentically Chinese from the cooling bamboo forest outside to the Qin Shi Huang Terracotta warriors and other relics exhibited on the top floor. Once inside visitors were invited to remember the 60 000 victims of the May 12 earthquake in Chengdu and were greeted by earthquake survivors and volunteers speaking on flat-screen TVs all part of J&J’s theme of caring to create a healthier world. Guests also viewed displays of the company’s philanthropic and community-based partnerships and showcases of products such as an artificial hip stent and cervical disc.
But the highlight had to be the five terracotta warriors one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century. Offsite at Millennium Monument Park J&J presented daily performances of 22-foot tall marionettes that enacted the story of a terracotta warrior brought to life by a Chinese girl as part of its support of the museum that houses all 8 000 of the life-size clay warriors and horses.
In keeping with the caring theme J&J last August launched a search across China to identify 10 role models and rewarded them with the opportunity to volunteer at the Olympics. The company supported the athletes and medical staff with free oral care products including Reach toothbrushes and Listerine mouthwash as well as eye care diagnostic and sterilization equipment medicine and medical training.
An interactive website in collaboration with NBC Olympics and iVillage iVillage.com/familyroom chronicled the five-month journey of eight athletes and their families as they prepared for the games with blogs social networking and forums.
Agencies: Sandra Arnold Urban A&O and Thinc Design all New York City
ADIDAS DRESSED FOR OLYMPIC SUCCESS
Adidas the official sportswear partner of the games supplied more than three million apparel and footwear products to Olympic staff volunteers officials and the 3 000 athletes competing in the games. It kicked off its Olympic sponsorship last November with a light show before thousands of people at Beijing’s Yongdingmen Gate the former front entrance to the old city around the rallying call of “Together in 2008 Impossible is Nothing.” On the Olympic Green adidas’ pavilion presented a museum of Olympic moments that showcased the Chinese Olympic Team Presentation Suit Made For Beijing footwear and adidas athletes. The experience culminated with a 91-meter- long spiral theater made of 760 LED panels highlighting athletes colorful graphics and adidas brand statements that led visitors from the second floor of the pavilion back to the first level.
Offsite at the adidas Fan Zone at Sanlitun Village the biggest adidas store in the world consumers could watch broadcasts of the games test their athletic strength speed and balance and receive recommendations tips and training techniques. Or they could shoot hoops on a rooftop half-court basketball court. Artists got in on the action too via a Sport in Art exhibition of works by 71 international artists and athletes including David Beckham that launched in November and traveled through four cities before making its final stop at the Today Art Museum in Beijing continuing the Impossible is Nothing theme.
Agency: Momentum Worldwide New York
GE’S OLYMPIC IMAGINATION CENTER
To the casual observer GE’s two-story 16 500-square-foot Imagination Center was probably the most visible part of its sponsorship. However behind the scenes it provided power water treatment transportation and security to many of the venues and ultrasound and MRI equipment to hospitals treating athletes. It made contributions to 400 infrastructure projects in around Beijing including at all 37 official Olympic games venues helping the Chinese host the largest most technologically advanced Olympic Games ever.
On the Olympic Green the Imagination Center followed the theme of the five core Chinese elements of wood fire earth metal and water to showcase its energy water healthcare transportation and lighting technologies. The water area for instance gave visitors the sensation of actually stepping on water while projection screens illustrated GE’s desalination and water reuse technologies; the lighting area displayed GE’s contributions to the Aquatic Center with an interactive experience linking light beams to a series of LCD screens highlighting lighting technology and energy efficiency; a nine-foot-tall model of a GE aircraft engine opened into an animation that simulated the flow of air through the engine showing how energy is captured stored and used; spinning windmills depicted how wind energy works. Following the games the Imagination Center will be moved and installed in the lobby of the new GE-China headquarters in Shanghai. Agency: Auditoire Paris France
SAMSUNG’S OLYMPIC RENDEZVOUS
Music phones and mobile phones even new bio-plastic models were up front and center at Samsung’s Spectator Center on the Olympic Green and as presenting sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay since 2004 so was a display of the torches since 1998 when Samsung began its Olympic sponsorship. A green theme was introduced as fans submitted their ideas for environmentally friendly phones. Winners received eco-friendly mobile phones and had their submissions exhibited in an outdoor plaza where visitors relaxed and viewed live feeds of the competitions performances by hip-hoppers traditional artists a Calligraphy Dance Show and the Green Bamboo Band as well as a weekend green fashion show of clothing made from recycled materials. Olympic athletes could kick back and make free long-distance calls at Samsung’s Athletes Center.
Samsung brought the excitement stateside in April this year when it awarded five Samsung Mobile Phone “Samaritans” who helped others with calls from their mobile phones the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch in San Francisco. In July it launched an online Medal Mania contest that had fans seeking hidden gold medals for a $100 000 grand prize. In August Samsung sponsored an Olympic training session and charity event in Dallas with former Olympian and NFL player Herschel Walker to support Dallas Challenge an organization that helps youth stay in school and out of the criminal justice system. EM.
Photo Credit: unsplash.com/@alexasoh