Brand Olympics Vs. All-American Favorites: Who's Winning?

The Beijing Olympics is just days away. Will you watch? How many of us will be drawn to the hope, even the expectation that something transcendent might happen? Something unscripted and unexpected? Beyond the re-invention of Beijing stories, the will-Tibetan-protestors-disrupt-it stories, the human interest stories and nods to all the sponsors, how much real sport will there be for us to enjoy? That got us thinking about other sporting events.

Where do the Olympics rank versus the other sports Americans love - the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Masters? Are the Olympics really the greatest sporting event or not? To find out, we tapped into the BrandAsset® Valuator, our powerful brand research tool. The BAV is the world's largest study of brands and is based on the truth that competition for mindshare is fierce and crosses categories. Not only are the Olympics competing with Major League Baseball for viewers, but it is also competing with flat screen TVs, breakfast cereal, the Prius, and "American Idol" for daily consideration and attention.



The BrandAsset Valuator measures the power of brands on four key pillars: differentiation, relevance, esteem, and knowledge. A powerful brand balances all four pillars. A brand must be differentiated as special and unique while remaining relevant to people's lives. Once a brand has achieved differentiation and relevance, it needs to be liked and understood to endure (esteem and knowledge).

We think of baseball as being the national sport of Americans, but football has created, grown, and maintained the strongest brands (see table below). The Super Bowl and the NFL hold the No. 1 and 2, respectively, and have enduring brand power. These two sports brands came in at No. 2 and 3 in 2001 and 2004.

The brand of baseball has greatly suffered from strikes and drug scandals-Major League Baseball and the World Series just barely make the top 10 at Nos. 8 and 10. And, there is reason to worry here (should you be an owner or advertiser). In 2004, baseball's brand rankings were stronger, coming in at No. 4 and 5. We still love our baseball, but not as much as football, auto racing, or even college basketball.

Top 10 sporting events and organizations of 2007

1. Super Bowl

2. NFL

3. Olympic Games

4. Nascar

5. Daytona 500

6. NCAA Final Four, March Madness

7. Kentucky Derby

8. Major League Baseball

9. Rose Bowl

10. World Series

But what about the Olympics? In 2007 the Olympics came in at No. 3, sandwiched between two motor-racing events. This top placement doesn't sound so bad for an event that occurs only every two years. But wait, the Games were No. 1 in 2001 and 2004. Why? Is it that we have lost interest in the types of sports competitions that are held at the Olympics? Is it that the warrior physicality of football is more attuned to a fearful post-911 America? Or has football just done a better job of communicating, marketing, and merchandising its offer?

Maybe the answer lies in the personality of the Games and other sporting brands - the specific impressions the American public has of each of these brands. Our BAV study looks at 3,000 brands on a wide-ranging set of personality attributes, from trendy to daring, caring to intelligent.

All of the top 10 sports brands rate extremely high on active and entertaining attributes, such as dynamic, energetic, fun, high-performance, and rugged. Taken together, these characteristics define mass sports entertainment; without these characteristics we wouldn't be watching, caring, or buying. Those sports and sporting events that don't make the Top 10 (golf, tennis, X Games, and more) are generally lacking one or more active attributes.

Digging deeper into the Olympics' profile, we find some answers. While football comprises aggressive and powerful traits, the Olympics is perceived as nicer, a bit out-of-date, and maybe even a trifle elitist.

Compared to our other sports and sport events, the Olympics is less trendy, less down-to-earth, less carefree and more intelligent. Hard to say why. Is it all of those heart-warming athlete and family profiles that distract us from real sports? Is it time for a new, more up-to-date Olympics? I don't know yet, but I'm looking forward to next year's data! Will the Olympic brand slide continue or is Beijing the answer?

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