The Wall Street Journal has a story about the Olympics organizing committee’s efforts to hide any logos that are not those of the sponsors:
To ensure that only the companies that pay millions of dollars to be official Olympic sponsors enjoy the benefits of exposure in Olympic venues, organizers have covered the trademarks of nonsponsors with thousands of little swatches of tape.
In years past, many companies tried “guerilla marketing” attempts to grab some ‘un-paid’ media attention, so I can understand the organizers’ efforts. And in China, I’m sure it’s a bit more easy for the organizers to control such things than in, say, a country with civil liberties that is not ruled by a totalitarian government.
Despite their best laid plans, I can think of at least four brands (or, in one case, issues) that have received significant exposure (for U.S. TV viewers, at least) from the Olympics for little (or no) media-dollars or “paid” sponsorship.
1. Kinesio: Kinesio, as blogged yesterday at NYTimes.com, has gotten hours of airtime in return for providing 50,000 rolls of its all-cotton, colorful athletic tape that has been displayed on beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh.
2. Microsoft: From the “as long as they spell your name right” department, the guest appearance at the opening ceremonies by the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) at least let the world know what operating system was used by the producers to put on the $300 million production.
3. Facebook: Facebook received major mojo from Michael Phelps as Bob Costas kept referring to how many fans he had on the site. The “number of fans” meme has been picked up by bloggers and main-stream news media. Had Phelps been a more savvy marketer, he would have cut-off Costas and said, “Swimroom.com is where people can find me.” (Swimroom is a “social network for swimmers” that Phelps endorses.)
4. Protesters: Attempts by Chinese officials to quiet Free Tibet protesters have gained their cause significant exposure in the west. Barring Joey Cheek from entering the country to protest China’s Darfur policies provided him an even better platform.
Can you think of others? Comment below if you can.
Sidenote: I haven’t been to the Masters Golf Tournament in several years, but the times I did, it was the most sponsor logo-free sporting event I have ever attended. The Masters logo is displayed tastefully throughout the course, but sponsor logos (I think Cadillac and Travellers Insurance were the only sponsors) were limited to a display area near the club house. While the organizers couldn’t prevent the players from displaying brands on their clothing and bags, they went as far as requiring that Cokes be served in green cups and at the vendor stands, the Coca-Colo logos on the drink dispensing machines were masked.