Advertisers Find Games a Gold Mine: Olympics TV Audience Far Exceeds Expectations
Marriott, Anne, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Ambushing consumers with flashy commercials hyping everything from beer to telephones may help put advertisers at the Olympic Games on top.
NBC's ratings since the Olympic coverage began have exceeded predictions by about 25 percent. As many as 90 million Americans have been tuning in the events in Atlanta.
Coca-Cola's advertising campaign is highlighting fans at past sporting events - all of them drinking bottles of Coke. IBM "eavesdrops" on conversations in which characters praise the company's computer graphics. NationsBank is presenting 30-second spots about its commitment to the Olympics.
For companies spending an average of $600,000 for a 30-second prime-time slot during the Olympics - a commercial during this year's Super Bowl cost about $1.5 million - the bigger audiences are more than just a pleasant surprise.
"The No. 1 goal was to generate brand awareness for NationsBank," said spokesman Scott Scredon about the bank's goals for Olympic advertising. But he declined to say how much the company spent on advertising beyond the $40 million fee to become an official Olympic sponsor.
Reebok International, although not an official sponsor of the Summer Games, surpassed the $40 million mark with its advertising campaign - including hiring Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith to plead with the Olympic committee to admit football as an official sport - according to spokesman Dave Fogelson.
The sports apparel giant has battled competitor Nike's own advertising campaign, but it hopes that providing gear for athletes during the Games will win the company some recognition on the field as well.
"The first priority isn't so much an advertising one," said Mr. Fogelson of Reebok. "If you're in our business and you're not equipping a lot of the athletes, . …