The Olympic Games tend to permeate all aspects of society each time they occur, dominating workplace conversations, media coverage and television airtime for two weeks straight.
This time around, the games also gained a prominent presence in stores and malls, as the retail industry showed its support for the games, and Canada’s athletes in particular.
Whereas we’ve long seen retailers such as Roots and Hudson’s Bay Company embrace the games by providing Team Canada merchandise – including those red mittens that became ubiquitous during the 2010 Vancouver Games – a variety of other retailers got in on the action this year.
Companies such as Sport Chek and Canadian Tire, for example, launched aggressive marketing campaigns demonstrating their support for Team Canada, with floor-to-ceiling advertisements at certain TTC subway stations.
Shopping centres also seemed to get into the Olympic spirit more than ever before. The Toronto Eaton Centre, for example, set up a viewing lounge where people could take a break from shopping to catch up on the latest Olympic action.
On Family Day, the Eaton Centre showcased the viewing lounge during a special event featuring Jason Burnett, an Olympic silver medalist in trampoline, who took photos with fans and signed autographs. Burnett also made an appearance at Fairview Mall during the long weekend, which had a similar viewing lounge set up for shoppers to enjoy.
It’s a smart strategy from a business perspective, enticing consumers to stick around at the mall longer than they might otherwise in order to see Olympic events they don’t want to miss. The more time shoppers spend at the mall, the more likely they are to make more purchases – even if it’s just a latte to sip on while watching some figure skating or bobsledding.
The Winter Olympics clearly resonate with Canadians, providing an exciting event to rally around during the cold and dark winter months. The games also elicit a strong sense of pride among Canadians, so it’s understandable that retailers would want to find a way of associating themselves with this event.
Although retailers have their business reasons for getting involved, it’s nice to see the industry showing its support. I’m sure the athletes appreciate all the support they can get, and from a fan’s perspective, it’s one more element contributing to the exciting spirit of the games.