A diverse group of home channel companies competed in Olympic promotions and tie-ins this year, with some seriously growing their participation in the games.
The Beijing Olympics offered a vast stage for home improvement marketers. The first four days of the games drew an estimated 157 million television viewers in the United States, an 11 percent increase from the comparable period at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Home Depot, once again, distinguished itself with prominent sponsorships of the U.S. Olympic team and its heartstring-tugging ads featuring athletes who also happen to be Home Depot employees -- part of the U.S. Olympic Committee Job Opportunities Program. The ads, produced by Dallas-based ad agency the Richards Group, feature a cross-section of the 37 Home Depot-employed athletes who qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games. In all, Home Depot currently sponsors 130 athletes through the program.
“The Olympic movement is unique in its universal appeal,” explained Home Depot spokeswoman Jean Niemi. “The program also allows us to find talented associates, who are hard working, disciplined and dedicated.”
The company has been involved in the jobs program since 1992. There are several goals of the sponsorship, but one of the biggest Niemi said is this -- by aiding those high achieving athletes, the program exemplifies the slogan “You can do it. We can help.” in a very real way, she said. And perhaps most importantly, Niemi pointed out that the jobs program “has created tremendous internal good will.”
Home Depot is not the only home channel retailer with close ties to the games. Canadian retailer RONA started with its Olympic sponsorship program at the 2006 Turino Winter Olympics, with plans to continue sponsoring Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes through 2012.
RONA’s program is called “Growing with our Athletes,” and its goal is helping support athletes with living, training and competition expenses. RONA spokeswoman Eva Boucher-Hartling said athletes who are part of the program -- including 34 at the Beijing games -- are each associated with certain stores across the country, and they appear in community events near those locations throughout the year.
“We believe in ‘building’ the games, just as we’re providing tools and materials for the home improveme