Chris Reed
Jul 25, 2012

What does the Olympics mean to Asia?

Tangs, one of few Singapore retailers with an Olympic display, not sure if they are allowed to do that and why it appears to the handbag Olympics though..... There is a tendency in any country ...

What does the Olympics mean to Asia?

Tangs, one of few Singapore retailers with an Olympic display, not sure if they are allowed to do that and why it appears to the handbag Olympics though.....

There is a tendency in any country holding any global/regional sporting event that they think the world is as interested in their event as they are. London is clearly very excited about holding the Olympics although people from  the UK outside London seem more enthusiastic maybe due to the massive transportation and security problems the Olympics is bringing to the city.

There also seems to be plenty of opposition to the spending of S$20Billion on a 2 week sporting event such as The Observer’s award winning columnist Andrew Rawnsley who has eloquently summed up the anti-Olympic British view recently - see below

People outside the UK on the other hand are interested in differing measures with the US and Australia probably being next. Asia is more schizophrenic  when it comes to the Olympics and athletics in general.

There is only one sport that unites Asia and that’s football. The English Premier League (EPL) is the one sporting competition that you can get any Asian to have a view on and become passionate about (well any man anyway!). From China to Malaysia, Indonesia to Thailand (Champions Manchester City,  Manchester United and Arsenal are but three EPL teams currently touring Asia to great excitement and enthusiasm).

This has translated into a lack of specific Asian Olympic consumer marketing campaigns compared to Europe and America’s treatment of the Olympics by brands who are both sponsors and non-sponsors. This may in part be due to the previous Olympics being here in Asia in China.

In 2008, the list of official partners read like a ‘Who’s Who of Asian brands – with Bank of China, Sinopec and China Mobile among the names. They are entirely absent from London 2012. The ones left are very Western and Global and that has made their presence here minimal compared to the last games with the lack of exposure that goes along with it.

A good example of how this manifests itself is what Olympic sponsors are doing here:

McDonalds – using the Olympic branding in adverts and their current promotion is focused on free Olympic branded  Coca Cola glasses (a natural continuation of their most successful promotion ever the free glass promotion). However McDonalds in Australia has created a series of meals to celebrate each recent Olympics. The Beijing Chicken Burger has followed the Sydney Stack and Barcelona Omelette, followed by the Atlanta Pork McRib and the London Fish and Fries. Nice idea but not replicated outside of Australia maybe explaining why Aussies are keen than Asians on the Olympics due to history and culture? Cool advert below that sums it up:

Coca Cola –  for their main brand there no solus promotion having just finished an on pack Euro2012 promotion but tying with McDonalds in the joint promotion aforementioned. For their isotonic drink  Aquarius however they have launched an on pack promotion in Singapore being branded as the official Singapore Olympic Team Drink.

Samsung – minimal instore presence and minimal on line presence apart from copying the UK site which includes a part about where you can see the torch bizarrely…..They are though running TV ads in certain countries backed up with specific Apps such as Believe in Malaysia advert

Acer- the Taiwanese brand are using the Olympics to create greater awareness in the US and Europe which has led to minimal marketing in Asia about the association. Even their website with Olympic links doesn’t work

Panasonic – technical support brand don’t appear to be doing that much to exploit the association in Asia  apart from the global “sharing the passion” app which hasn't been marketed that extensively over here

Omega – very little apart from running occasional global adverts

P&G – more focus appears to be on the US and UK than Asia with minimal in store/social media activity with even brands you would expect to be keenly associated with sport like Gillette focusing on F1 and Tennis instead in many countries like Singapore. However in China Gillette's sponsorship of Chinese badminton player Lin Dan and Australian swimmer Eamon Sullivan, as well as Pantene'ssponsorship of Chinese diver Wu Minxia and Korean rhythmic gymnast Yeon-jae Son are highlights of individual partnerships that they have created to exploit the sponsorship.

Visa – have done more than anyone else in promoting the association and have ran global creative above the line and created local competitions with other brands such as McDonalds and local retailer NTUC FairPrice and also tied up with local banks like Bank of China and global ones like Citibank to give away trips.

A second good temperature gauge of how a region/nation feels about an event such as the Olympics is what non-Olympic sponsors are doing. The answer is nothing much or no more than for any minor Asian festival or regional/global sporting event that features EPL players for example.  There are very few brands doing any point of sale or special sales promotions for example.

Local isotonic brand 100 Plus who in Singapore and Malaysia spends millions on being associated and available at every organized run, cycle, triathlon and every other kind of energetic activity have linked up with it’s Malaysian badmintion brand ambassador to promote itself to Malaysian wishing the best of their hero.

The supermarkets as ever are using any device to get people to buy more products but it’s the more expat orientated ones that are some minor adverts with little or no point of sale. Department store Tangs have gone the furthest with some great POS although I am not sure the IOC would be too happy that Tangs are using the five rings in such an unauthorized way but being as they’re in Singapore I presume they can do nothing? Tangs also seem to have got confused between sporting and handbag Olympics…

In Singapore there appears to be more marketing campaigns to support Singapore's 47th Birthday and National Day in August than the Olympics.

The adage all publicity is good publicity is challenged by the wave of strikes and security problems the Olympics have had which have been reported across the world rather than the blanket positive coverage London Mayor Johnson and UK Prime Minister Cameron would like or naively expected.  Millions of dollars of free publicity can work both ways…check out The Daily Show’s view of the rain sodden Jubilee as  very funny example of when expected good PR can go wrong see link below:

For people in the UK who want to use the summer holidays to get away there are  plenty of destinations who would welcome them and offer them the opposite of lockdown London. Tourism Ireland launching their campaign this week.


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