Sports games

Which Olympic Games? Advertisers fall silent ahead of Beijing Winter Games

Just a week before the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, American viewers can be forgiven for forgetting the date, or even that it takes place in Beijing, China.

Unlike any Games in recent memory, the nearly 20 official international and national Olympic sponsors have kept a low profile, avoiding the press and viewers by holding back the publicity blitz that usually kicks off months before the “Let the Games begin” declaration. As of Wednesday, only two spots had been launched, both focusing on athletes with no mention of the host country, with which the United States quarrels on diplomatic and economic fronts.

During the Games, ad agency executives and advertisers told Reuters that viewers should expect ads to continue to downplay location and ignore any hint of politics to avoid drawing attention. focus on geopolitical conflicts and the burning gaze of the Chinese government. Corporate sponsors and advertisers of the Beijing Olympics, which begin Feb. 4 and run until Feb. 20, have come under fire for what human rights groups say is the cause of the alleged abuse of China against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the country. China denies these allegations.

Global Olympic sponsors were questioned by a bipartisan congressional panel in July, which accused the companies of putting profits ahead of accusations of genocide in China. “The halo is tarnished,” said Mark DiMassimo, founder of New York-based ad agency DiMassimo Goldstein, which represents brands that aren’t official sponsors but plan to run ads during the Olympics.

He said his clients decided to remove mentions of traditional Olympic themes – friendly competition, global unity and good sportsmanship – from their campaigns shortly after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics on last month. Bridgestone Corp, official sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, this month began running an advertisement featuring American figure skater Nathan Chen, an Asian American, who advocates authentic representation in skating, “no matter who you are or where you come from”.

Delta Air Lines Inc, the official airline of Team USA, is airing two commercials featuring skiers, snowboarders and figure skaters defying gravity in their events. German financial services company Allianz will have a film featuring winter athletes playing on social media in the United States, a spokesperson said. Last year, Allianz filmed a short video about US Paralympic athlete Matt Stutzman.

When Reuters asked global sponsors and Team USA about marketing plans for the Olympics, only two responded, one of whom declined to comment. GREAT DEPARTURE

This year’s response is a big change from the past of the Olympics, when advertisers created ads that embraced the spirit of the Games and honored the culture of the host country. Last year, Microsoft Corp ran an ad for the Tokyo Olympics in which Japanese citizens showed famous parts of the city such as the Shibuya crossing during a Teams call, sharing a piece of Tokyo for people who couldn’t be there due to the pandemic.

A Coca-Cola Co advertisement for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics featured animated birds stealing cola drink straws to build a replica of the famous Bird’s Nest stadium. But that was then. With political controversy and the pandemic once again preventing spectators from traveling to the Games, viewers this time around can expect to see fewer mentions of the host city, said Jeremy Carey, chief executive of the agency. advertising Optimum Sports, a unit of Omnicom Media Group. .

“It’s a challenge, quite frankly,” he said. “The connection is not as widespread as it normally would be.” Focusing on athletes competing on the global stage is seen as the safest strategy for brands, experts said.

“We’re trying to avoid the geopolitical implications around (the Olympics),” said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. Chipotle will run ads during the Olympics promoting “real food for real people.” athletes”, and will feature the favorite commands of contestants like American ice hockey player Hilary Knight. Any attempt for a brand to partner with the Beijing Olympics could backfire, DiMassimo said. “You just don’t know. You put (the ad) on and it might blow up.”

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)