MKTG Sochi Insights: Fashion Partnerships In The Opening Ceremonies
With the Sochi Winter Olympics underway, brand activity is rampant. Both official sponsors and non-sponsors are taking an active approach to drawing an association with the Games. However, for some brands, the tie to Sochi transcends being a brand halo play - for some, the tie comes with significant commercial potential. The fashion category has grown in prominence in recent Olympic cycles as the intersection of sport and lifestyle has catapulted fashion brands into Olympic sponsorship relevancy.
One of the largest platforms for these fashion brands to leverage in order to capitalize on Olympic fever is the Opening Ceremonies. With ratings for the Opening Ceremonies typically significantly higher than for specific events - while also bringing in a more diverse demo to the viewing audience - the Opening Ceremonies truly are the world's biggest runway. The opportunity to outfit an entire Olympic National team in ceremonial gear authenticates the brand the Olympic experience in way that is core to their product offering. Further, it represents a rare opportunity to get on-camera brand exposure during the Opening Ceremonies. The ceremonies have often been viewed as a sacred piece of art not to be tarnished by branding. London 2012 was one of the first games to integrate product placement for TOP (the IOC's sponsor level)sponsors such as Samsung in the Opening Ceremonies. This time around, the Sochi ceremonies paid homage to Russian history and were fairly pure from a branding perspective. Fashion partners were among the only brands to be truly integrated into the ceremony.
Notable fashion brands who have partnerships at the 2014 Sochi Olympics Include:
Further, fashion brands don't just receive a marketing lift from their Sochi sponsorship. There is a significant commercial upside to be gained as well, activating fashion partnerships at the retail level with consumer versions of athlete outfits. In recent years, the gold standard fashion partnership from a Canadian perspective has been between Hudson's Bay and the Canadian Olympic Committee. The famed "Red Mittens" campaign generated over $20 million in revenue for HBC during the Vancouver 2010 cycle. By bringing a sponsorship to life in the form of a saleable product, fashion brands/retailers are in a better position to see a return on their Olympic sponsorship.