Ralph Lauren Should Tone Down Olympic Logo

Ralph Lauren may be misguided by outsourcing manufacturing of U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) uniforms to China. But, the American economy will benefit a speck from some in-sourcing with the Olympic uniform business.

A U.S. entity looks to bring a bit of Canadian money back home. NRDC Equity Partners controls Hudson’s Bay Co., the long-time Canadian retailer and official outfitter of Canada's Olympic team. NRDC, which also owns Lord & Taylor, bought Hudson’s in 2008 and assumed a reported $100 million deal to make Team Canada look snappy in Olympic dress through this summer.

It's labrynthine, but some cut of the money the Purchase, N.Y.-based company gets from sales of Team Canada apparel at Hudson's stores should find its way into the U.S. Treasury.

None of this arcaneness will be pointed out during NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies. But Ralph Lauren and the USOC will likely have to absorb more big hits after a week of bad publicity, assuming NBC’s announcers break from the cheerleading and offer some journalism.



As has been well-documented, U.S. legislators have been railing against the USOC for allowing Ralph Lauren to manufacture Team USA uniforms in China. So much so, Ralph Lauren will bring the manufacturing stateside for 2014.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) was so upset at the USOC’s seeming lack of concern for U.S. jobs, he wanted the uniforms torched, even if the athletes had to go scantily clad.

"If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that's what they should wear," he said.

(NBC might be rooting for that as interest would drive ratings.)

With Ralph Lauren defusing some of the issue with the 2014 promise, hopefully there will be an uprising over a less important, but unfortunately too visible matter: Ralph Lauren’s Olympic designs. The over-commercialization of the Olympics continues and it’s hard not to look at Ralph Lauren as a personification.

The size of its iconic Polo logo on the U.S. uniforms – and other clothing to be worn at the Games, some of which was shown first on the "Today" show months ago -- is gaudy. While watching the athletes parade with the smiles on their faces in the Opening Ceremonies, the famed insignia can take viewers' attention away from them.

Of course, that’s surely what Ralph Lauren is going for. The Opening Ceremonies should do a pretty good rating on NBC and the product placement should log a few hours. Ralph Lauren has outfitted Team USA in the ceremonies for the past several Olympics, so it likely hasn’t experienced any significant backlash or would have gone in a toned-down direction. The USOC hasn’t released what Ralph Lauren pays for its sponsorship.

Team Canada uniforms look to carry a Hudson’s Bay logo that is far more low-key than the polo logo. Maybe it’s a welcome symbol of Canadian restraint?

What’s interesting is as the Chinese manufacturing controversy burns, before Ralph Lauren signed its deal, the U.S. uniforms, were made by a Canadian company, Roots.

In 2002, it sold popular berets worn by U.S. athletes for $19.95, while reportedly generating $40 million from its apparel deal overall. This summer, the U.S. team will wear a beret again. Fortunately, the polo logo won’t be on it.

4 comments about "Ralph Lauren Should Tone Down Olympic Logo".
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  1. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark, July 16, 2012 at 5:14 p.m.

    WOW! Every time I hear about this it make me scratch my head: The U.S. is the only country who's government provides absolutely no funding to its Olympic teams; on top of that, the U.S. congress removed taxes and tariffs at the request of the congress' favorite corporate benefactors (remember NAFTA and the rest?!) so they could off-shore industries like textiles, and make more money. The side affect is that NO companies make clothing in the U.S. anymore!

    The faux outrage expressed by our elected officials in this case, serves as yet one more reason to remove these buffoons from office and replace them with non-partisan, truth-telling citizens who will NOT vote one way to appease financial interests, and cry the other way to APPEAR to be outraged at the consequences of their actions- while not even admitting they are the problem to begin with!

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 16, 2012 at 6:23 p.m.

    Ralph Lauren is making a fortune on his $1600 per outfits. It's not like making them in China is saving anyone money, but it is increasing his multi-billion dollar conglomerate. (Drive past his Telluride Ranch, one of his homes and it will take about an hour.) Unless there is a contract, there should be no next year. It is too hard to believe there are no other talented designers in the U.S. and can make them here for less than he is charging for them being made elsewhere (Yes, there are clothing manufacturers still in the U.S., just not many.). The end.

  3. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, July 16, 2012 at 7:13 p.m.

    The corporate logos on Olympic athletes have always bothered me, particularly for their placement on television, which is how 99.9 percent of audiences will see the games. In close-up shots, you can almost never tell what country an athlete represents. But you can ALWAYS tell the real story, whether he's on Team Nike, Team Puma, Team Adidas or whatever. Just look at NBC's broadcast. You'll see a lot more Swooshes than flags. As a professional, I applaud the brilliant and unavoidable product placement. As a human being, an an American, it disgusts me.

  4. Melissa Pollak from none, July 17, 2012 at 5:55 p.m.

    I may be the only person who finds the outfits completely unimaginative and therefore unattractive, making the logos seem even more prominent than they should be. My opinion of the Ralph Lauren label has taken a plunge.

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