In the circle of the rings: A roundup of Olympic P&I

When the Olympic torch arrives in Athens next month, Canadian Olympic sponsors hope the Games will ignite more than just the eternal flame. Several have tied premiums and incentives into the international event and they're banking on the fact that consumers will want a piece of Olympic fever. From lapel pins to commemorative cans to opportunities to win a trip to the Games, here's a sampling of the offerings - and the strategies behind them.

Kodak Canada, Toronto

What: One of the three official Roots-designed Olympics caps worn by Canadian athletes (Roots is official apparel sponsor to the Games). The inside tag will read ‘Compliments of Kodak Canada, Official Worldwide Sponsor.’

Who: B Street Communications (Toronto)

Strategy: About 8,000 free caps valued at $29.99 are available through a mail-in offer on specially marked packs of three Kodak film and camera products. Paul Dillon, director, marketing communications, says this move will help drive sales during Kodak’s ‘key summer selling period.’ And as worldwide sponsor of all but three of the Olympics since 1896, the year of the first Games, this P&I also heightens the company’s global affiliation with the Games. In addition to on-pack promotion, Kodak’s other marketing strategies include: in-store P-O-P, PR initiatives, stuffers and an online push on the Web site.

Why: ‘This year we wanted to leverage our relationship with the Olympics and do something to help our Canadian film and one-time-use camera sales,’ says Dillon. ‘We wanted to reward our consumers by providing them with an opportunity to get this hat for free.’ Caps, unlike T-shirts or jackets, were the item of choice because they don’t require sizing, simplifying distribution.

Visa, Toronto

What: A choice of two lapel pins bearing the Olympic and Visa logos. Also, a grand prize trip to three consecutive Olympic Games: Torino, Italy in 2006, Beijing, China in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010.

Who: M Marketing (Toronto)

Strategy: The goal is to leverage the longstanding partnership between Visa and the Games. The pins are available free to anyone who wants them. The trips reward cardholders, with each Visa purchase between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 generating a chance to win the grand prize.

Why: Introduced in 1988 when Visa first sponsored the Games, the pins have become a collector’s item. Gallant Law, senior product manager, consumer products, says the pins serve as a reminder of the Visa brand and Olympic sponsorship long after the final medal is awarded. ‘It’s a tradition and we know there’s a great demand.’

The trip, however, took a little more research. Visa conducted an online poll of its cardholders and presented various concepts for promotion. The trip to three consecutive Games ‘resonated the best,’ says Law.

Petro Canada, Calgary

What: Six-beverage Roots Cooler Bags for $9.99 with fill-up.

Who: In house

Strategy: A domestic sponsor since 1988, Petro-Canada’s P&I has run the gamut from hats to scarves. And, of course, glasses. The gas retailer sold 50 million of them for the 1998 Winter Games in Calgary. (You probably have a set at home right now.)

Most of the promotion for the cooler bag will be P-O-P material. TV ads will also include a teaser and there will be radio spots in some markets highlighting the company’s continued sponsorship of the Games, says Steven Keith, director of downstream communications. The campaign begins at the end of July.

This year’s offering is tied in with one of Petro-Canada’s hottest items at its convenience stores – Aquafina bottled water. A six-pack of water will be sold separately for $3.99.

Why: ‘Through focus group testing, this [cooler bag] was an item that tested very well,’ says Keith. Petro-Canada also wanted to continue its successful two-year partnership with Roots. ‘There’s a high-level of recognition with their brand. [They have] quality products, and are a successful Canadian company.’

Inniskillin Wines, Mississauga, Ont.

What: Commemorative wine bottles, wine charms, lapel pins, scratch-and-win contests and a national contest to win a trip to the Games.

Who: In house

Strategy: A first-time sponsor, wine-maker Inniskillin plans to align its brand with the ideals of the Olympics: ‘[It's about] the excellence, working to achieve your goals, [and] the competition,’ says Ed Madronich, marketing manager.

Why: ‘The [labels] are going to be in front of the consumer and hopefully draw them to purchase the wine,’ says Madronich. He expects the commemorative labels to have the greatest impact on sales – anywhere from a 15% to 30% increase.

Johnson & Johnson, Montreal

What: Free in-store value guide containing coupons and tips from sponsor brands. Also a trip for four to any past Olympic City.

Who: Momentum (MacLaren McCann, Toronto)

Strategy: Tagged ‘Celebrate the Olympian in You,’ and featuring Olympic hopeful, Emilie Heymans, J&J’s campaign theme celebrates women in their 30s and 40s who juggle the demands of work and life. Seven participating brands will be part of a promotion involving P-O-P. During the Games, a TV campaign will run in support.

Why: Translating Olympic rights to in-store work that will actually drive sales is the big challenge for J&J. But Gail Padvaiskas, group product director for women’s health, says this campaign has the right mix to succeed. ‘We felt that this idea was so strong that we could leverage it in both the spring and during the Olympics itself to get some recognition,’ she says.

Coca-Cola, Toronto

What: Limited-run commemorative bottle. On-pack contest for free Coca-Cola product and a chance to win Visa Gold Cards valued at up to $100,000.

Who: In-house

Strategy: According to Laura Cutsey, national promotions manager, the classic figure-eight bottle, one of Coca-Cola’s best-known trademarks, is a fitting symbol for the 76-year-old relationship between the soft drink maker and the Olympics. The bottle will be on shelves from July 15 until supplies run out. ‘We like consumers to connect with the brand,’ says Cutsey. ‘One of the ways to do that is by using the commemorative bottle.’

The bottle is part of the larger ‘Quest for Gold’ campaign where consumers can win Visa Gold cards with the purchase of Coke product. Advertising will be TV focused, with the first creative running for four weeks in July and a second spot when the Games start.

Why: Partnering with Visa for the campaign allowed this campaign to be even more attractive to consumers, says Cutsey. The commemorative bottles, however, play on the nostalgia factor. ‘It would definitely be incremental sales for us,’ she adds.

General Mills Canada, Mississauga, Ont.

What: On-pack promotion on participating cereals for ‘Roots Cash,’ a $10 gift certificate for Roots


Who: In-house

Strategy: ‘The strategy for the Olympics is to enhance our relationship with our consumers,’ says Greg Cyr, director of promotion marketing. To do that, General Mills plans to promote its sponsorship with P-O-P, displays with Roots Olympic clothing and draws for merchandise. The company is also sponsoring eight Olympic hopefuls, which Cyr says should add further credibility to the promotion.

Why: ‘We’ve moved away from a lot of the trinkets and trash,’ says Cyr, referring to cereal industry tendencies to fill boxes with endless low-value items. ‘Right now consumers are looking for value.’ Gift certificates have been successful in the past and are a good fit for what Cyr calls the ‘short window’ of promotional opportunity that the 17-day Olympics provide.

Dairy Farmers of Canada, Montreal

What: On-pack logoed stickers featuring contests to win a trip to this year’s Games. Also, 100 picnic baskets will be given away.

Who: Blitz (Cossette, Montreal)

Strategy: The stickers will appear on all Dairy Farmers’ brands and direct consumers to the contest site ( where they can enter to win the trip.

Marie Claude Ethier, assistant director, communications, says a mix of TV, in-store promotions and an incentive to visit the site has worked well in the past.

‘The elements are simple, they emphasize the link between the [Dairy Farmers' little blue cow] logo – a certification mark that means quality – and the Games,’ she says. TV and radio spots will run on the CBC

during August.

Why: A sponsor of the Olympics since the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, Ethier says the goal is to continue to align the ideals of the Games with those of dairy farmers. ‘[We hope to] equate the hard work of the athletes with the hard work of dairy farmers.’