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Not an Official Sponsor, Nike Still Gets More Attention Than Adidas at Olympics

Not an Official Sponsor, Nike Still Gets More Attention Than Adidas at Olympics
Nike

If any publicity is better than none, Nike is getting far more out of the Olympics than official Olympics sponsor Adidas. The Beaverton, Oregon-based athletic apparel giant is embracing a well-crafted perception as an outsider for the 2012 games, while getting additional and relatively off-beat attention in London of late.

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Team Egypt will knowingly wear counterfeit versions of Nike's gear (for added insult, some bags include fake Adidas zippers). And London Mayor Boris Johnson recited a newly coined Greek poem to the IOC, one that, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, includes the word 'nike,' Greek for 'victory.'

Then there's Nike's new ad campaign, a series of titled "Find Your Greatness" which takes place in cities named London all over the world, just not the one hosting the Games.

Emphasizing an image that the brand is for everyday people more than famous athletes, Nike's press release explains the campaign as, "a powerful message to inspire anyone who wants to achieve their own moment of greatness in sport, launched just as the world focuses on the best of the best."

Some of the Londons in the campaign include:

-East London, South Africa 

-London, Nigeria

-Little London, Jamaica

-London, Ohio

-London, Ontario 

-London School, Qatar

-London Bridge over Lake Havasu, Arizona

Nike will be airing the ads in 25 different countries, starting Friday, the day of the Opening Ceremonies. It won't be the first time they put together a series of ads that subtly connects to an event they don't sponsor. From a July 25 article in the Guardian:

In 2008 the brand ran a campaign timed to coincide with the Olympic handover from Beijing to London featuring 2012 hopefuls including basketballer Luol Deng, middle-distance runner Emily Pidgeon and sprinter Ashlee Nelson.

In 2010 Nike also ambushed official World Cup sponsors with an ad featuring flashes of the future lives of stars such as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It also used Africa's largest digital advertising screen on a 30-story building in Johannesburg to display fan messages over Twitter and feature its football stars.

Not being an official sponsor worked pretty well for the company for the Beijing Olympics. In 2008, a China market survey showed that 40 percent of respondents thought Nike was in fact the official Olympic sponsor. It's linking with Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang created an Air Jordan-effect on Chinese consumers with respondents associating Liu's success with his Nike gear, stating that they want to be like him. To make Adidas' investment seem even less worthwhile, nearly 80 percent of consumers polled said they "did not care" who the official sponsors were.

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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