Some personal notes on Olympics merchandising

Posted by Kelvyn Gardner on August 09, 2012

It seems for once that the UK has firmly placed its habitual scepticism aside in fully embracing the London Olympics. The atmosphere in the nation as a whole has been vibrant and positive, and within London it’s almost tangible. It is in the nature of today’s hurried world that the slow build-ups and long periods of involved anticipation of yesteryear no longer pertain.

However, now that the Olympics are happening, everyone wants to be involved. With retail still fragile, I guess I should not have been surprised that a week before the games I was able to pick up an official Team GB tshirt for less than half price. At the venues, however, it’s a different story.

Last week I spent a day at the archery, and was delighted to note that, among her official Spanish team strip, competitor Iria Grandal found room to show her fashion sense by wearing a licensed Miffy string-guard.

The merchandise stands seemed busy to me, and that has been backed up by news direct from LOCOG. Last week, before a single British gold medal had been won, they reported sales at the London 2012 shops have increased by almost 75% since the start of the Games
– 750,000 visitors expected to the Olympic Park megastore over the course of the Olympic Games
– First Gold medallists Royal Mail stamps issued
– Best selling items include Gold Wenlock soft toys which are part of the exclusive Olympic venue collection of merchandise, and Adidas Team GB wristbands which are identical to the ones given to British athletics stars such as Bradley Wiggins as part of their official Team GB kit bags.

The Royal Mail is an especially interesting case, as they plan to issue a new stamp for each GB gold medal winner. At the same time, the home town of each winner will be treated to the conversion of one local postbox, normally in ‘Post Office Red’, to bright gold colour. This happened yesterday in LIMA UK’s home city, as local boy Greg Rutherford won gold in the Long Jump on Saturday night. Gold Wenlocks have been thrust into the hands of medal winners on the athletics track (they are big, but not as big as Usain Bolt) by helpful officials, which no doubt adds to their popularity.