Local fans, athletes drive ’14 Winter Olympics coverage

by January 7, 2014
Sochi 2014 countdown

The official Olympics website shows the Sochi countdown clock.

Today will begin the one-month countdown to the 2014 winter Olympics, which will take place Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.

Unless your region is sending a marquee athlete to the games, or is home to an Olympics training facility, or one of the top Olympics corporate sponsors, you’ll need to dig a bit to find some local business tie.  But with the athletic competitions – and related incidents from security concerns to Russian culture – making headlines in coming weeks, it’s worth the effort.

A few ideas include:

How popular Olympics sports fare in your market. From ice skating and hockey to skiing, even moderate-temperature markets might boast an industry related to popular Olympics sports.  This is an opportune month to take a look at how the ice rinks, slopes and other venues in your region fare, as well as related businesses from coaching and instruction to equipment shops and dealers.

Advertising. What local companies have purchased ad time during televised Olympics events, and what’s the rationale behind their buys?  Here’s a TIME article that says the Olympics and the mid-term elections later in the year will give nearly a $4 billion advertising boost and here’s a Variety piece about TV’s growing dependence on sports-related and political advertising.

What local marketing and advertising firms – and their vendors, from apps-writers to videographers – reaped business from ads that will air during Olympics programming?

Sports sponsorships. What’s in it for companies that sponsor local sports teams or minor-league athletes?  Which firms’ names are on area playing fields and uniforms, and what returns do they reap from a marketing standpoint?  Has the bang for the buck remained constant or does the appeal of sports-related advertising wane as audiences become more fragmented?  What are hot sports to sponsor these days?  Are local teams and players losing out to big-money arenas like NASCAR, or does firms still see a value in having their logo displayed at local softball fields, ice rinks and the like?

Here’s a really cool blog post from Ohio University’s business school about making a business case for a sports sponsorship; it includes a lot of useful links related to market research, demographics and sports statistics.  You can translate this background into questions for corporate marketing executives,

Olympics merchandise and collectibles.   This is a business idea that likely has penetrated any market, and you can report it from the consumer side, the small-business side or both.  Whenever a big event rolls around, memorabilia from past iterations gets another look, so check out local antique shops, swap meets, coin dealers and the like to see how knickknacks from previous Olympics events are doing pricewise these days.  It can get pretty high-end – here’s an article that emerged during the 2012 summer Olympics in London about an Olympics memorabilia auction at Sotheby’s, for example.  On the lower end, a Sioux City Journal article reports on a collector who snaps up the stuffed-animal mascots from each Olympiad.

With this story, you could even include a box or primer for consumers; how are those hoodies, mugs, pins and souvenir programs from past games holding up in value?

Where are they now? Along the lines of this Mental Floss article on post-Olympics careers, how about a round-up of past Olympic athletes from your area, with an emphasis on how they have parlayed their expertise and fame into business activities and jobs since their turn on the world stage?   What advice do they have for those seeking careers in sports, coaching or related industries?