Branding Ideas℠

At the Rio Olympics, It’s All About That Swag

Team USA gear created by Ralph Lauren for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Team USA gear created by Ralph Lauren for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Have you been watching the Olympic Games in Rio this week, cheering on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team and chuckling at #PhelpsFace memes? If so, you’ve no doubt noticed some of the interesting branding stories coming out of Rio too. The Olympics are an incredibly high-profile sporting competition, playing out on just about the biggest stage there is, and the IOC is guarding its branding very carefully. It’s been notoriously strict about use of official Rio 2016 logos and even GIFs (yes, believe it or not, you’re officially not allowed to share animated GIFs of the Olympic Games on social media… though that didn’t stop clips of #PhelpsFace from going viral). Not surprisingly, the IOC has also taken a dim view of unauthorized swag being peddled during the two-week athletic event.

Still, there have been some really interesting and even surprising branding stories coming out of Rio, along with some pretty covetable swag we can all appreciate whether we’re into sports or not. Here are some of the most intriguing types of Olympic branded products—or stories about Olympic swag—that have gotten our attention as the Games have gotten underway:

  • Custom Nike swag for Olympic athletes. Preparing for the Games takes many years, as Olympic observers know. Tokyo 2020 organizers are already deep into planning for their turn in the Olympic spotlight. Brands are no different. Nike spent three years preparing custom swag for Team USA and Team Brazil, designing individualized gifts tailored to each athlete’s specific schedule and needs. That incredible attention to detail no doubt left a strong impression on the athletes, and it’s smart Olympic branding. When giving promotional branded gifts, it’s always a pro move to make sure that your gifts are useful, helpful, and relevant to the people receiving them.
  • The IOC is making its own knockoffs. This is fascinating! While actively going after unauthorized vendors for churning out counterfeit merchandise, the IOC itself is getting in on the act, selling cheaper versions of its official Olympic branded goods in downtown Rio. One good aspect of this development is that it makes Olympic gear accessible to Brazilians who might not otherwise be able to afford it, but it’s also an impressive display of chutzpah and branding control at the same time.
  • Fashion-forward team gear. Swag and high fashion have been converging in an interesting way lately—Justin Bieber’s new line of tour-inspired merchandise is just one example. Not to be outdone, the Olympics are featuring some attention-getting team gear created by famous fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, and Christian Louboutin. If there’s a particular look you like or a team you want to support, you can buy the same swag online and rock a cool Olympic pose yourself.

We’ve got just over a week to go, with more intriguing examples of Olympic swag and interesting branding stories sure to come out of Rio as the Games continue. They’ll be worth keeping an eye on as you cheer your favorite athletes to victory!

Are you looking for branded promotional items to help your company stand out from the competition? There are a lot of ways branded goods can draw attention for your business. Get in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook or call us at 877-881-6845 and we’ll be glad to advise you on exceptional promotional products that can represent your brand with style and grace.


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