A number of prominent American companies have resorted to unconventional tactics to capitalize on the marketing opportunity provided by the 2018 Olympics without paying the steep price required of official sponsors.
Large companies are avoiding massive sponsorship fees by advertising their sponsorship of individual athletes through social media, while smaller brands pursue a word of mouth strategy by passing out tee shirts and other materials to athletes in Pyeongchang.
“Guerilla marketing tactics around large-scale events like the Olympic Games are more comprehensive and complex than ever,” David Abrutyn, a marketing expert at sports investment firm Bruin Sports Capital, told Reuters.
The Jamaican brewing company, Red Stripe, capitalized on an opportunity when the Jamaica’s women’s bobsled team lost a significant portion of its funding after parting ways with their coach and biggest donor. The brewer, which is owned by Heineken, stepped in to pay the team’s bill and promote their efforts on social media with campaigns like #RedstripeToTheRescue and #SleighAllDay.
Athletic apparel company Under Armour made a similar play, outfitting the Nigerian women’s bobsled team and producing a documentary about the group’s Olympic preparation.
Tech giant Apple lent the U.S. bobsled team iPads and Apple Watches, aptly colored gold.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) relies on official sponsorships for one fifth of their revenue. As a result, they guard against encroachments.
“The IOC and its partners in the Olympic movement take the threat of ambush marketing very seriously,” an IOC spokesman said.
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