On this opening day of the London Olympics, NORMAN GILLER asks whether they will become the “Dirty Tricks Games”, as those warring giants of sporting commerce – Adidas and Nike – go head to head in a contest fiercer than any of the listed events
Nike has not paid a penny into the Olympics pot, but television viewers will get the impression they are part and parcel of the sponsorship that has cost rivals Adidas a mere $62 million for the label of “official supporters”.
Launched on YouTube on Wednesday, a 60-second Nike advert will feature on television screens across the world during the Opening Ceremony.
Narrated by British actor Tom Hardy, the theme is “Find Your Greatness” and gets round the Olympics brand ban with the claim: “Greatness isn’t reserved for the chosen few in one special city”.
They then show a compilation of unknown athletes and children competing around the world in places that just happen to be called London. Voice over: “Greatness can also be found in London, Ohio, and London, Norway, and East London, South Africa, and Little London, Jamaica, and Small London, Nigeria, and the London Hotel and London Road and anywhere else someone is trying to find it.”
Nike has long been the masters of ambush marketing, and it shoots a hole in the IOC attempt to block anybody outside official sponsors, from referring to London in their marketing.
The Adidas team is screaming foul over this party gate-crashing by Nike, and it gets even worse for them. Nike sponsor the United States Olympic Committee, which means that every athlete will wear Nike gear around the village or during medal ceremonies. Nike also sponsors a number of American sports federations, including basketball, football and athletics, so their competitors will be adorned in Nike sportswear.
Even though the official, Adidas-branded London 2012 gear in the merchandise shop at the Olympic Park includes T-shirts for a “mere” £23, and polo shirts for £26, to demonstrate our neutrality, here’s the Adidas “Take the stage” TV commercial.
Now over to the only competition that really matters, on the track, in the pool, on the courts, in the sea off Dorset, on the lush lawns of Wimbledon and Lord’s, across the playing fields and the manufactured beach of Horse Guards Parade: Play up and play the game.
Now excuse me while I dash off to give some guidance as to which flag belongs to which country.
SOME BOOKMAKERS are this morning refusing to take any more bets on Sir Roger Bannister being the Chosen One who will light the Olympic flame this evening – though one bookies has The Queen as their 11/8 favourite.
The first man to break the four-minute mile barrier had run a leg of the torch relay in 1948, and he did so again in Oxford last week.
He was at the 1948 Opening Ceremony, where he was sent to retrieve a Union flag from a senior BOA official’s car in the Wembley car park, because they had forgotten that they needed it for the march past. So flagging up problems is nothing new for London Olympics.
But Bannister’s one Olympics as a competitor finished in disappointment when he placed fourth in the 1,500 metres final in 1952.
Large screen film shots of Bannister’s historic mile run were seen during Opening Ceremony rehearsals, hence the betting market reaction. Bannister, the SJA’s old friend Dorothy Tyler, or another sporting knight, Sir Steve Redgrave, of the five golden medals, would all be fitting participants in the final part of the torch ceremony, and a good deal more of an Olympic background than David Beckham. Even if he is sponsored by Adidas…
SO THE LEVESON INQUIRY has been completed after eight months and the interrogation of 224 witnesses.
Interrogation is too strong a word. The “gentle coaxing of evidence” would be a more apt description.
I hope his Lordship will take this advice from somebody with an older (but certainly not wiser) head than his: don’t lose your way in a welter of words.
If you produce a report larger than War and Peace few will wade through it. Make your points succinctly and – in the best traditions of newspaper leaders – forcibly and with feeling.
There is widespread fear in our journalistic profession that Lord Leveson will come up with findings that will curb the vital and fundamental freedom of the press.
He needs to find a balance between continuing self regulation, with the safety net of an independent regulator – an ombudsman – who will have the powers to close newspapers if there is clear evidence of abuse of the privacy laws.
Catch-22: How do you find anybody neutral and without prejudice or political leanings? Perhaps the even-handed Lord Leveson can appoint himself?
His Lordship will be writing his report to the background noise of baying wolves as the Wapping Eight are taken through the courts.
The legal wrangling will, I predict, go on for months as defence lawyers set out to show that Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks cannot have a fair trial after the unchallenged accusations tossed around during the Leveson Inquiry.
Perhaps they should employ the Nike advertising agency to help defend them. They really know how to spin.
MY MANY FRIENDS will be relieved to know I survived the mugging at gunpoint in Madrid at the weekend and after my ordeal I am now safe at home in dozy, delightful Dorset.
I say “many friends” because literally hundreds were contacted by email to inform them of my plight and requesting that they send ransom money.
This, of course, was all part of a scam by hackers who invaded my computer, wiped my entire email contacts list, and then tried to con money with a poorly worded plea for cash. If they were trying to impersonate my writing style they must have a low opinion of my way with words. Nothing unusual there, then.
It is one of a more recent trend in “Trojans”, malware that can infect someone’s computer in order to access their email files. They got access to my system through an email that to all intents and purposes looked as if it had come from BT/Yahoo. Investigators traced the perpetrators to Nigeria, where the trail goes cold among a maze of fraudsters.
Be careful. There are some cunning people out there. Many of them, apparently, the wealthy widows of Nigerian princes. One of them tells me by email that she wants me to look after her money for her in return for a 20 per cent share. All I have to do is send her my bank account details…
Some have even begun phoning people, as if from an overseas call centre, and ask their victim for passwords and access codes to their computers, so that they may obtain their credit card and bank details. And some people somehow fall for this.
But I’ve told her that I’m too busy trying to capture the Olympic spirit. Pass me a Pepsi, my Nike shirt and a Kingburger. Now let the fun and Games begin.
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UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Sep 24: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill GC. Booking details from Paul Trow at email@example.com
Thu Dec 6: 2012 SJA British Sports Awards. An Olympic year extravaganza. Note the date in your diary now. Details to be announced soon.