Beijing Games 2008 -- Video Roundup
Air Xiang: Nike’s China Strategy
Footwear is one of the biggest segments of sports apparel – and the 2008 Games are “seen as a vehicle for those who seek to open up this thriving market,” reports CNBC’s Darren Rovell.
He attended the gala opening of Nike Beijing, the biggest of the firm’s 3,000 Chinese locations. Charlie Denson, Nike Brand president, told Rovell “the opportunity long-term still is very large.”
Denson said Nike has inked a hometown hero for endorsements: China’s gold-medal winning hurdler Liu Xiang: “When I think of him, I think of what Michael Jordan meant to Nike in the ‘80s and ‘90s.”
Chinese athletes in 22 of 28 sports will don Nike gear – but if they win medals, they’ll switch to Adidas: The latter firm bought Chinese team podium rights.
Champion's Gold: Endorsements
U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who earned six gold medals in the Athens games, is the highest-earning American Olympian with $5 million per year in endorsement deals.
The Beijing games should boost Phelps' marketability even further: Peter Carlisle of sports management firm Octagon tells Rovell that China's growth will "have a huge impact on Michael's marketing, given the amount of interest Chinese companies have to market their products and services globally."
As Phelps puts it: "If I swim fast in a Speedo, people want to swim fast in a Speedo...and if I spend money with a Visa [card], people want to spend money with a Visa [card]," said the super-athlete -- who endorsed Visa in a gala Chinese news conference.
This week, McDonald's named Phelps the global ambassador to its Champion Kids Program, which is sending up to 300 children to the 2008 Games.
Hundredths of a Second: Swimsuit Tech
Swimmer Amanda Weir won two silver medals in Athens. But she’s turning to specialty athletic gear maker Tyr and its streamlined bodysuit to help her get the gold in Beijing.
“My races come down to hundredths of a second, which is faster than you can blink,” she told CNBC’s Darren Rovell. “It’s the icing on the cake to get that advantage.”
Tyr’s advanced-technology swimsuit has a special structure that strategically compresses the blood within muscle tissue, maximizing the power return, Rovell reports. When it’s released to the market, it will fetch $300 to $400 “from competitive swimmers all across America,” he said.
Rovell adds there is a hoped-for quid pro quo: If Weir makes a major splash in Beijing, then Tyr may gain the higher brand profile of Warnaco Group's Speedo (worn by gold medalist Michael Phelps) and Nike (endorsed by swimmer Brandon Hanson).