My company raises tens of thousands of dollars for Olympic athletes simply by introducing companies with money to needy athletes. We have a long list of athletes in dire need and many who are 2010 Olympic contenders who would love to hook up with Chip Wilson of lululemon.
Athletes love it when the money comes straight to them and doesn’t pay COC or IOC salaries.
Many people including the legal profession regard the marketing strategy lululemon is using as completely legal and ethical, and they don’t refer to it as ambush marketing, but instead as leveraging Olympic momentum.
You Too Can Leverage Olympic Momentum!
If you want to leverage Olympic momentum you first have to identify and understand the unique motivations of the various segments of the Olympic market.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the consumer segments and how it rolls out in most Host regions;
Athletes and their Support Teams - coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, family, etc.
This group is in town for an extended period and they spend big bucks. VANOC leverages the power of athletes and you can too. If you connect with the athlete, spectators will be close behind. Offer athletes special consideration like opening your shop just for them so they can browse in peace. Offer them deep and special discounts on product. Don’t forget to snap a pic of you and them for the store wall.
Foreign News Media, plus their entourage
This is an influential group estimated to be about 10,000 strong. Schmooze them. They’ll be in town poking around all over the place looking for color, and guess what? If you position yourself properly you’re the color. But be wary because this is a group of investigative reporters out for a story, and sometimes with an “if it bleeds it leads” perspective. Don’t be a scapegoat and inadvertently make the hero of their story look good at your expense. Learn how to manage media, do your homework, hook up with this group and know what they want. Your job is to get them to spread the good word about your city and company. They have a direct line to prospective tourists around the world who will eventually make it to your region when Olympic frenzy dies down. You need each other. Leverage it. VANOC won’t like you talking to international media, but they aren’t paying your bills.
You might think Olympic foreign spectators will be a slam dunk and money in the bank, but I’m warning you, this is a very hard group to reach. Why? Well they are hardcore Olympic fans and are in town for one thing and one thing only . . . to eat McDonalds, trade pins, buy souvenirs, and of course have SEX!
This group is herded and jealously guarded by the IOC and VANOC. Remember, the Olympics is a monopoly and if spectators spend money at your place it means they won’t have as much to spend on expensive Olympic souvenirs.
The other challenge you face is that Olympic spectators stand in long lines for hours, or are stuck on a bus going between hotels and sports facilities for even longer hours. It’s not a stretch to think that the bus run between Vancouver and Whistler will take five or six hours when you factor in loading, unloading, security checks, bathroom stops and incredibly heavy traffic at peak times. At the Turin 2006 Olympics John Furlong CEO VANOC complained it took him seven hours to take what would normally be a two hour bus ride between cities similar to Vancouver and Whistler. After all these years the IOC still can’t get it right, and there is absolutely no indication they will get it right in Vancouver either. I hope they do, but the odds are great spectators will be stuck on buses for really long periods of time, and that makes anyone cranky and less prone to casually browse and shop.
Flash Mob Critical Mass riders could also put a real crimp in Olympic bus travel. What better way to tell the world Vancouver rolls on two wheels than to slow down the buses for the cameras and twitterers?
Olympic spectators are often weary and do not have the time or energy to stumble around and accidently find your store. If you want to reach this group you have to give them incentive to find you by promoting your shop as a destination location. HINT: Use your website, blog and twitter to reach out to spectators before they arrive. Offer people special discounts if they can prove they are in town for the big event, i.e., have them produce a coupon printed from your website, or a hotel key, air ticket, event ticket. Be careful though how you word the offer because if you do it incorrectly you might have the 2010 trademark police knocking on your door.