Olympic crowds lift the athletes (and Nike treads softly)

6 Aug

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Live from London 2012: I’m blogging from the weightlifting arena in the ExCeL tonight.

I’ve been to many of the events held here in the past week, including judo and table tennis, but weightlifting has a particularly great atmosphere. If there’s any sporting discipline that depends on audience participation – it’s this. After all, 220kg won’t lift itself. It also doesn’t matter where these contestants are from as the crowd just wants to see the human body pushed to its limit.

In the tribune

It was my first shift in the tribune today overseeing the Greco-Roman wrestling, which saw 60kg, 84kg and 120kg contenders attempt to flip their opponent to progress to the next round. The arena was packed and the journalists arrived in their droves to cover the event. Although, Prospect Magazine warns that the alternative wrestling style – freestyle – is the least popular Olympic sport. But, even if the audience is small in numbers later this week it shouldn’t affect the atmosphere. Everyone seems happy to get involved and show their support so far.

Brands breaking out

But, let’s not dwell on sports losing out. Rather, let’s focus on sports brands that are winning – Nike

The most talked about sports brand online (with 33% more tweet mentions under event hash tags according to StarCom MediaVest Group via The Wall), ahead of official Olympic sponsor Adidas, has ensured it’s part of the sporting conversation by supplying athletes with plenty of footwear.

Not only have Adidas got the hump because organisers can’t ban athletes from wearing Nike (it’s deemed as a piece of ‘equipment’) but because lots of pairs have been spied on high-profile names. And, to push the boot in, Nike’s also released a range of trainers with department store Liberty.

With a pair made especially for Team GB 400m hurdler Perri Shakes-Drayton who’s yet to take to the track, Nike is making sure it has the upper hand (or foot) when it comes to brand presence and awareness with its Victory Zoom Elite range.

There’s a week of competition left but will Adidas respond? Yes – it sponsored the ‘greatest show on earth’ for long-term positive brand perception. But, with a global captive audience tuning in, there’s plenty of quick-wins that it can’t afford to miss.

Call the Doctor

On another note, have you noticed how most athletes listen to music before they take to the stage? Have you noticed how they all have similar ‘over the ear’ DJ headphones? That’s because brand Beats by Dre have distributed them as gifts to athletes in a side-step marketing move that avoids slapped wrists by LOCOG. This tactic should make sure that Olympic sponsor Panasonic, which manages the TVs and big screens at the venues but also manufacturers headphones, gets the message too – step up or lose out.

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