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The Games Prevail for Active Firms

The Beijing Olympics have the potential to be among the most controversial in recent memory — but activewear companies are nonetheless diving in as sponsors.

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Regarding whether some of the impact of the campaign could be lost by people either not watching the Games or actively avoiding advertisers, the Nike spokesman stated: “Like anyone we are concerned about reports of civil unrest in the world, but our focus is on the athletes.”

Nike recently extended its relationship with the U.S. Olympic Committee as an official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, providing U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes with the Medal Stand uniform worn on the awards podium and during medals ceremonies, through the London 2012 Olympic Games. At Beijing, Nike said it will outfit U.S. athletes competing in nearly every sport, including the official uniforms for U.S. National Governing Bodies. Additionally, Nike is sponsoring 22 of the 28 Olympic Federation sports in China.

According to Powell, the “most bang for your buck is promoting a national team who will get play in its home market on the nightly news.” The two highest -profile active markets in these Games — the U.S. and China — are divided between Adidas and Nike, with Adidas sponsoring the Chinese National Olympic Committee and Nike sponsoring the U.S. National Olympic Committee, but Adidas will sponsor several U.S. Olympic Federation sports and Nike will sponsor 22 of the 28 Chinese federation sports.

Although most active brands dress athletes and advertise during the Games — including Puma, TYR and New Balance — Powell identified Adidas, Nike and Speedo as the three active companies most associated with the Olympics.

Speedo sponsors more than 75 athletes in swimming, diving, water polo, volleyball and triathlon. Its newly launched record-setting LZR Racer suit will be worn by high-profile swimmers including Michael Phelps. The LZR Racer will be available to consumers in July for $550.

“Speedo has not received any backlash or protest against the brand thus far,” a spokesman said. “As a brand and company, our primary focus is on the positive messaging of the Olympic Games and the amazing level of hard work and dedication that the athletes have put into each of their sports. We recognize that for many of these athletes, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we want to support them however we can in helping them achieve their goal. While we firmly believe in freedom of speech and opinion, we hope that the world can come together and stand united in the positive spirit, sportsmanship and camaraderie of the Games.”
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