Tired of all the Olympics-related advertising and promotions
You soon may be.
You can look forward to more than 20 hours of TV commercials
from national advertisers and countless more hours of local ads,
all squeezed into NBC's 171 1/2 hours of telecasts.
Expect nationally known athletes, some of whom are not even
competing in the Olympics, to dribble, broad-jump and sprint their
way onto your TV set, selling everything from fast food to makeup.
And if you're feeling sorry for yourself, pity more the
estimated 4 million people milling around Atlanta, the site of this
They're being subjected to hundreds of newly erected billboards
and neon signs, several corporate blimps and dozens of special
events staged by advertisers going for the green by associating
with those going for the gold.
The Centennial Olympics has become more commercial than any
other, probably because it is in the United States - the world's
most advanced consumer market - and specifically in Atlanta, a city
already painted bright Coca-Cola red.
"It's skyrocketed in the past 20 years," said Michael Jacobsen
of the Center for the Study of Commercialism. "They're turning it
from a sporting event to a marketing event."
While some people complain that the merchandising ruins the
Games' athletic integrity, others say there would be much less
athletic competition without the commercial competition.
Olympic officials point out, for instance, that corporate
sponsorship and licensing generated about a third of the Games'
$1.7 billion budget. And worldwide broadcast rights brought the
Games an additional $900 million.
Broadcasters wouldn't have paid as much if they couldn't recoup
it through advertising sales. NBC paid a record $465 million to air
the Atl anta games in the United States, and it sold $680 million
in advertising time.
The network charged an average of $300,000 per half-minute for
a 17-day show. By some estimates, that show may reach 27 million or
more Americans and 4 billion people worldwide.
Most of the top 20 corporate sponsors paid at least $40 million
apiece for the right to use the Olympic rings in ads, call
themselves the official such-and-such of the Olympics and buy up
all the available commercial time for their product or service
That doesn't mean that they all did.
John Hancock, a life insurance company, spent close to $35
million for the right to use the rings and some Olympic air time.
The insurer wouldn't pay $5 million more to be the sole insurer
AT&T Corp. also opted not to buy up all its apportioned TV
slots, so rival MCI Communications Corp. scooped up the remaining
80 communications commercial slots, for $25 million.
Anheuser-Busch Cos. didn't take that chance. The St. Louis
company is the official brewer and amusement park operator of the
games, so don't expect to see any Coors or Disney World commercials.
A-B expects to spend about $120 million on the games. That will
buy everything from TV spots (175 for about $50 million) to new
business cards featuring the Olympic rings, company officials have
In Atlanta, A-B created a building and pavilion to house its
Bud World Party, featuring a high-tech nightclub and laser-light
shows for invited guests. Anheuser-Busch expects at least 200,000
people, the equivalent of three Super Bowl crowds, to flock daily
to its Olympic area downtown each day.
To make sure, A-B has 24 permanent billboards posted throughout
Atlanta, as opposed to its usual four or five, and some 200 smaller
billboards, thousands of neon store signs and several massive
inflatable beer cans.
The famous frogs will be for sale at the Olympics. A-B also
will trot out its other commercial celebrities, including "I love
you, man!" Johnny, the guys who dress like gals for Ladies' Night
and the Clydesdales. …