NEW YORK -- Prepare to be inspired. After all, its Olympic ad time.Olympics marketers from Coca-Cola to Samsung are pulling out all the stops this summer, stuffing scores of athletes into ads and telling tearjerker stories. Cokes ads play on gold moments when athletes have a Coke together. An ad for Samsung shows the road to Rio for a runner from South Sudan, the newest country to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee. A Visa ad , customized for different countries around the world, shows a bevy of athletes carpooling to Rio. And P&G continues its Thank You Mom campaign with ads focused on how mothers have helped Olympic athletes along the way.SPONSOR CHALLENGESThe rah-rah campaigns mask an unsettling truth: Its tough out there for an Olympic marketer. The games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, face a number of big problems ranging from the Zika virus to political upheaval . So companies are opting for campaigns that aim to capitalize on the emotional appeal of the Olympics without lingering too heavily on the specifics of Rio or Brazil.Theres an additional challenge. A new rule allows non-sponsors -- that is, companies who havent paid the International Olympic Committee for the privilege of using Olympic trademarks in their ads and other perks -- to make greater use of Olympic athletes in ads.All that means a lot of risk, given that sponsoring the Olympics costs about $100 million to $200 million over four years. But that hefty price tag has a reward, too: an estimated 20 million viewers every evening on NBC over the three week stretch of the Olympics.MORE COMPETITIONTo protect that major investment by sponsors, the Olympic committee long prohibited anyone but sponsors from using Olympic athletes or Olympic rings or logos in ads. But the age of social media made enforcement increasingly difficult, so this year the rules have relaxed.Advertisers could apply in January to use Olympic athletes in their ads, though they were required to start their campaigns in March and still couldnt use official Olympic terminology or logos. Under Armor has been the most high-profile brand to make use of the looser restrictions, and features swimmer Michael Phelps and other Olympians in ads. Others, including General Mills, Gatorade and Asics, have also applied to advertise under the looser regulation, known as Rule 40.Rule 40 is changing the landscape. More advertisers are able to use the Olympics, so sponsors are trying different approaches to stand out, said Villanova marketing professor Charles Taylor.ATHLETES APLENTYOne way theyre doing so is by featuring more athletes in their ads. Cokes campaign features 79 athletes from 23 countries, including new footage of 24 athletes such as U.S. swimmer Nathan Adrian and Australian hurdler Michelle Jennek. The teen-targeted ads show athletes on and off the field sharing a Coke and having memorable moments like a stolen kiss, dubbed Gold moments.The campaign idea is `Gold is a feeling anyone can taste, said Rodolfo Echeverria, a Coca-Cola vice president in charge of advertising.Visas The Carpool to Rio campaign features 15 athletes, including New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams and U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin. The ad shows off Visa payment technology, such as its mobile app and another swiping a credit card at an automated entrance gate to pay for a ferry. The ad, which is airing in 38 countries, was adapted for 14 different markets by using athletes and styles of payments specific to particular locales.Its very much anchored in all the different things Visa can do, said Chris Curtin, Visas brand marketing officer.That multi-athlete strategy lets Olympic marketers avoid the problems that can occur if they bank too heavily on individual athletes. In the most infamous case, then-Olympic sponsor Reebok made little known decathletes Dan OBrien and Dave Johnson into household names leading up to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Posing the question, Who will be the worlds greatest athlete, Dan or Dave?, the campaign had to be modified after OBrien failed to qualify for the games.GET OUT YOUR HANKIESOf course, its always possible just to focus more on athletes inspirational and tearjerker stories than their Olympic achievement. Samsungs Chant ad showcases Margret Rumat Rumar Hassan, a 19 year old runner from South Sudan. The ad shows the South Sudanese, a new country in the Olympics, chanting her name and cheering her on. The tagline is Proud sponsor of those who defy barriers.This Olympics the focus is on telling human stories ... the technology doesnt take center stage, said Pio Schunker, Samsungs global head of marketing.And P&G is continuing its crowdpleasing Thank You Mom ads with the tagline Proud sponsor of moms that started running in 2010. One of the latest showcases U.S. gymnast Simone Biles and her adoptive mother; its already garnered more than 2 million views on YouTube.Ashlyn Harris Jersey . The FA rejected Wilsheres appeal that the length of his punishment was "clearly excessive" and said Thursday his suspension begins with immediate effect. He will miss league matches against Chelsea on Monday and West Ham on Dec. 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Young scored a season-high 26 points to spark a huge effort from the leagues most productive bench, and Los Angeles beat the Brooklyn Nets 99-94 on Wednesday night after blowing a 27-point lead.RIO DE JANEIRO -- Unless some unknown cellphone video shows up, we are unlikely to ever see the putt Henrik Stenson made Friday morning -- the one he may look back on as a big factor in winning an Olympic gold medal.Television cameras were focused on a ruling taking place in a bunker on the third hole at the Olympic Golf Course when Stenson, seemingly miles from the cup, rolled in his putt for an unlikely par. On the previous hole, in horrid weather to begin the second round, he made a 40-footer for birdie.By the end of the round, the sun was out in Rio and a smile was on Stensons face. He wasnt leading, but he had put himself right in the thick of the Olympic golf tournament.And he was still a bit amazed about that long putt dropping in.It was so long that tournament computer information that pegged the putt at 108 feet was deemed to be inaccurate.No, (the computer is not) broken, Stenson said. I tell you, its not broken. I mean, I felt broken at the time.Stenson, 40, is bidding to win Olympic gold a month after capturing the Claret Jug at Royal Troon. His 3-under-par 68 left him 2 strokes back of leader Marcus Fraser of Australia, with Belgiums Thomas Pieters between them.It didnt seem that things would end up so well for Stenson earlier, when he began his round in cool, wet conditions. A steady rain greeted players for the first few hours of the day, and Stenson got caught in the worst of it.Our group and the groups around us probably got three of the toughest holes in those conditions there right at the start, said Stenson, who estimated his tee shot into the wind on the second hole went just 250 yards, leaving him a 220-yard 4-wood to reach the green.And he holed a 40-footer for birdie on No. 2. Then, at the third, his drive went into the water, and after a drop he managed to get a 4-wood to the very front of the green.Youre just standing there praying for a 2-putt bogey, he said. Before I know it, I think it found the bottom of the cup. Thats the longest putt Ive made in my career, I would say. First of all, its hard to get a putt that long on any green in the world, maybe St. Andrews on a double green, you can find one.Stenson finished his round with two bogeys and three birdies over the final five holes and lamented some missed opportunities.But given soome of the problems he found on an otherwise off day, he was quite pleased to be in this position.ddddddddddddTheres a lot of golf still to play, he said. Ive said before, I always prefer to be two ahead than two behind. If youre not there at the halfway turn, youve got more to make up for the next two rounds. But 36 holes, if youre playing good, you can obviously make up quite a few shots.This has become normal for Stenson of late. He won the BMW International in Germany early last month, had a good tournament at the French Open, and then dazzled at Royal Troon, where he had the best round on each of the last three days, including a major-tying 63 in the final round to beat Phil Mickelson by 3 at The Open.Two weeks later, he contended at the PGA Championship, and then set his sights on the Olympics, never putting down the significance of a victory here.Hes the man to beat, I reckon, said Englands Justin Rose, who is tied for fourth, 4 strokes off the lead. Hes in good shape, obviously ice-cold, and we all know when he gets into a rhythm as we saw at Troon, hes a pretty special player.It doesnt hurt that hes chasing a couple of golfers who are far less accomplished. Fraser, 38, has just three European Tour victories in his career. Pieters, 24, who played college golf at the University of Illinois, has two European titles.Well, you know hes going to shoot a good score, Pieters said. Hes a top-class player, No.  in the world. You know hes going to make a lot of birdies, so you have to just play your own game.That has worked pretty well for Stenson of late. And its impressive -- even if that long putt was fortunate.I did my homework, Stenson said of figuring out that putt. It wasnt like you could read every break. I just had to look kind of straight, a bit of left to right, coming back at the end, and you just kind of go with that feeling and hit it.The scary thing was that it was like 30 feet out and looking like it is stone dead. My caddie was attending the pin and he felt the same. It was just like tracking. He thought it was going to be a tap-in and just, like, came up and took a little dive into the cup -- which I wasnt against. ' ' '
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