Going for the gold
Nike, Coca-Cola win Olympic marketing game; IBM, Reebok don't
NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Athletes aren't the only competitors at this year's Olympic Games -- some major corporations competed as well.
Many critics consider this the most commercial Olympics ever.
Some of the greatest success stories involved advertisers and marketing strategists who staked millions of dollars on the Atlanta Games.
But while some struck gold, others didn't even come away with bronze.
Athletic-show maker Nike placed prominently in the winners' circle.
The company swept through Atlanta with what advertising executives called a "guerrilla attack."
Without directly investing in the hallowed Olympic rings, the famous logo was seen everywhere.
Teeth-gnashing Reebok officials had to remind the world that they paid $20 million to be an official Olympic sponsor.
Among other "winners," Coca-Cola gets high marks from ad executives.
The company spent at least $60 million on its "For the Fans" campaign, airing nearly 100 commercials, both old and new.
Still, some critics saw the soft-drink maker's approach as overkill. Some even dubbed the Olympics "The Coca-Cola Games."
Other sponsors will leave Atlanta licking their wounds.
Chief among them is IBM.
Big Blue faced bad publicity when a computerized system it built to give European news organizations Olympic results spit out late and inaccurate information.
Some media companies demanded partial refunds.
"Big loser, IBM," said Donny Deutsch of Deutsch Advertising Co. "Very, very controversial. Here the equipment they were touting on the Olympics -- this great computer -- fell apart, yet they continue to run ads touting the equipment. It is almost laughable."
NBC, which paid nearly $500 million for exclusive rights to broadcast the Games, had mixed results.
TV critics roundly panned its coverage, saying the network didn't show prime-time events live and gave little if any recognition to most non-U.S. medal winners.
But since viewers have watched NBC's broadcasts in huge numbers, Betsy Frank, media analyst for Zenith Media Services said the network isn't fretting. (148K WAV) or (148K AIFF)
NBC already has the rights to six of the next seven Olympic Games, extending through to the year 2008.
Even though the network will be hard pressed to top this year's numbers, some ad executives have already approached NBC about putting together future Olympic marketing campaigns.
How did the Olympics' host fare?
Like NBC, the city of Atlanta received mixed reviews.
Atlanta took its share of knocks for transportation nightmares and what many labeled as excessive commercialism.
Some Olympic officials also publicly grumbled about the private venture that had organized the Atlanta Games.
"In Los Angeles (site of the 1984 Olympics), it worked very well," said Anita DeFrantz of the International Olympic Committee.
By contrast, she said that in Atlanta, "it's been a struggle to raise the funds. (Atlanta) had to build facilities. L.A. never had to build facilities."