Brands sponsoring UK athletes are poised to take advantage of their successes at the Beijing Olympics, with Nike the first to unveil a new campaign ahead of what is expected to be a rash of advertising around medal winners.
Nike is set to launch a campaign congratulating the UK’s first gold medalist, cyclist Nicole Cooke. The athletics company, which sponsors Cooke, is running a print and outdoor push wishing her luck for her next race later this week, which she is also hotly tipped to win.
Controversy surrounding the Games, related to human rights issues in China and bad publicity resulting from high-profile, pro-Tibet protests during the Olympic torch relay has left brands wary of leveraging their Beijing association in the UK market.
But the sentiment is changing and sponsors are now set to run congratulatory campaigns, which are less likely to attract criticism from the UK public.
As well as its push behind Cooke, Nike is also launching a viral campaign for heptathlon hopeful Kelly Sotherton, backed with print ads in national newspapers to coincide with the event this weekend.
Siemens, sponsor of the UK rowing team, one of the country’s most consistent medal-winning sports, are also geared up to capitalise on any winners.
Adidas, an official partner of both the Beijing Games and London 2012, is focusing its UK activity on its 2012 link, as is Visa, a worldwide Olympic partner. Both are running activity to coincide with the official handover from Beijing to London at the closing ceremony on August 24, with Adidas launching a range of 2012 branded merchandise and Visa backing an outdoor party and concert in The Mall.