Corporate 'theme park' a new branding idea
With only one day to go before the IAAF Athletics World Championships begin in Daegu, competition among companies to plug their brands and products is already under way, with logos, advertisements and even a brand-sponsored theme park springing up.
Adidas, the only sports brand to rank as an official partner of the International Association of Athletics Federations, is cashing in on the opportunity to promote its name to an expected 8 million TV viewers from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4 by setting up an “Athletics Theme Park” near the main stadium.
Samsung and Posco, both official IAAF partners, are launching promotional campaigns using trendy gadgets like smartphones, while companies such as Korail are hoping for greater exposure from their association as national partners of the event.
"Sponsoring global sporting events, whether big or small, has proved to be better than relying on TV or print advertisements for increasing the company's international awareness," said an official from shipbuilder STX.
"And as the IAAF World Championships is one of the world’s three biggest sporting events [along with the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics], we hope this opportunity will boost our image."
Samsung Electronics has already coated Seoul Station in the capital with its ads, and done the same at Daegu Station and in other key pockets of the host city.
The IT giant will open a "Samsung Smart Stadium" near the main stadium to promote its products, including the Galaxy Tab, and run an interactive "How to PLAY SMART" campaign to get visitors involved using their cell phones.
But it is Adidas that has charged full-steam ahead with its corporate marketing by building a two-storey theme park with appearances by top Korean celebrities and athletes such as Maurice Greene, the former 100-meter world record holder.
Adidas said it hopes the park, which will cleverly include an area devoted to the brand and the athletes it has sponsored, helps Koreans become more familiar with track and field events. This part of the sporting spectrum has not yet caught on in the county, which has failed to produce a medalist at the biennial Worlds so far.
“We hope that public interest in athletics will grow through these activities we have prepared," said Zion Armstrong, president of Adidas Korea.
"Our ‘experience zones’ will give visitors the chance to experience athletics events in fun and innovative ways."
Steelmaker Posco will also install a two-storey promotional structure in the vicinity of the stadium featuring hurdles, javelins and hammers made of steel. Visitors will be able to try their hand at events such as the shot put and mini high jump.
In addition, Korean companies like Korean Air, KT and Kumbokju will enjoy greater exposure from their ties to the upcoming Worlds as national partners.
Meanwhile, nonpartners will be treading carefully to piggyback on the event without antagonizing the IAAF or Korean organizers, and without opening themselves up to charges of pirate marketing.
Hyundai Motor plans to invite 3,000 students and socially neglected people to various competitions, while 500 Hyundai employees and family members will cheer marathon runners on the final day.
Kia Motors, which is affiliated to Hyundai Motor Group, will provide 10 of its new Soul GDIs to drive people selected from its promotional campaigns to Daegu from Seoul so they can take part. The automaker said it will supply them with free tickets and accommodation.
Large discount stores in the Daegu area will also relate their marketing activities to the World Championships. E-Mart will hand out 2,500 tickets to people who purchase items in eight of its branches, while Homeplus will give away free instant noodles and double store mileage points to consumers who show tickets to any of the competitions.
Experts describe the World Championships as a great opportunity for companies aiming to branch out in Europe as interest in track and field there is significantly higher than in Asia.
By Jung Seung-hyun [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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