Watch Out For The Ambush
Official Olympic status at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games equipped
most sponsors with the power to outrun their ambush market competitors.
However, strong local presence at the Summer Games is what provided
sponsors with the competitive edge needed to be remembered among
all the sponsorship clutter, according to a study by Performance
Research of 1,100 Olympic fans nationwide and 1,017 Olympic on-site
When on-site attendees at the Atlanta games were asked to recall
official Olympic sponsors, those sponsors with a Pavilion in Centennial
Olympic Park, such as Coca-Cola (83%), AT&T (58%), Budweiser
(41%), and Swatch (26%) received the most attention. [Among the
television audience, Coca-Cola (64%), McDonald's (35%), Nike (22%)
Reebok (16%) and Budweiser (14%) were mentioned most often, while
AT&T accumulated only 13% recognition as an official Olympic
Samsung, an unofficial Olympic sponsor with an aggressive ambush
marketing scheme directed at Panasonic, took squatters rights
to a parking lot on the outer limits of Centennial Olympic Park.
Panasonic, an official Olympic sponsor, displayed its logo on
the CNN tower looming over the Olympic Park, capturing awareness
of only 3% of the on-site audience compared to 9% stolen by Samsung.
Official USOC sponsor Reebok (13%) and US Track & Field sponsor
Nike (18%) unloaded an arsenal of marketing ammunition aimed at
each other on-site at the Olympics. Reebok utilized Olympic-themed
billboards throughout the city of Atlanta and specifically in
the areas surrounding Centennial Park while, Nike's marketing
success lay in the presence of its "Niketown" which
was located on the cusp of Centennial Olympic Park. Nike's message
of being involved with the Olympics successfully reached the television
audience as well, as evidenced by the following sponsorship awareness
results among television respondents Reebok (16%) and Nike (22%).
When respondents were asked if they had seen any recent Olympic
related advertising or promotions, responses were consistent with
those mentioned previously for Olympic sponsorship recall. On-site
attendees recalled Coca-Cola (63%), AT&T (36%), Budweiser
(29%), Nike (16%) and Swatch (15%) as advertisers seen most frequently.
Television viewers remembered Coca-Cola (40%), McDonald's (30%),
Nike (10%), Reebok (9%) and Budweiser (6%) as the promotions they
were most familiar with.
When respondents were asked to describe their impression of the
level of commercialism associated with the 1996 Summer Games in
Atlanta, roughly two-thirds of both on-site attendees (63%) and
those interviewed by telephone (60%) stated that the level of
commercialism was "acceptable".
Almost one-fifth (19%) of the those interviewed on-site and 15%
of those questioned over the telephone indicated they had a "higher"
level of trust in products associated with the Olympics. When
asked how they feel about selecting a product because it is involved
as an Olympic sponsor, 39% of the on-site attendees and 49% of
those interviewed over the telephone stated it "doesn't affect
me one way or another". However, when asked how they feel
about companies spending millions of dollars to be official sponsors
of the Olympics, 62% of the on-site attendees and almost one-half
(47%) of those interviewed over the phone stated "I'm all
Performance Research conducted interviews
on-site with 1,512 Centennial Olympic Park attendees in Atlanta,
Georgia before and during the sixteen days of the Olympic Games
(July-August 1996). The margin of error is less than one percent.
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