What luxury brands will win gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics?
On Friday August 5th the Olympics will roll into Rio de Janeiro, bringing its lycra-clad festival to the carnival city. A couple of months later, the Paralympics follows. Amidst the heavily muscled bodies, the face-painted fans, the tinkling of medals and the army of drug-testers, there will also be brands. Because as this blog has written about before, big sport means big money and big money means big luxury brands.
With over 1 million visitors expected to travel to Rio and Sao Paulo over the course of the Games, plus the billions watching on TV and online, the Olympics creates a global market like no other. So as expected, there are your MacDonalds, P&Gs, Samsungs and Coca Colas et al. But as usual on this blog, we’re a lot more interested in what the luxury sector has to offer and, in particular, what lesser known Brazilian brands will be on display. First, let’s look at some of the luxury brands continuing their Olympic involvement from London 2012.
Stella McCartney is back, teaming up with Adidas once more to kit out the British team in what looks suspiciously like brightly coloured gym-gear. Ralph Lauren, again responsible for clothing Team USA, has combined Californian and preppy themes for a look that only American athletes can really pull off.
RL has also gone further, building a video and social campaign around certain athletes, including this patriotic piece featuring paratriathlete Melissa Stockwell.
Omega is the official timekeeper once more and has created a Rio 2016 collection of watches to synch with their sponsorship. Even at a cool £4,100, their Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 chronograph is already sold out on some online stores. And whilst the practical Hermès has switched national allegiances from France in 2012 to Brazil this year, Prada has chosen not to sponsor the Italian nautical team as they did four years ago. Goes to show that Olympic sponsorship is not all plain sailing.
So that’s what the big global brands are doing, but what about the local ones?
Brazil’s 35% import tax on luxury clothing and accessories is the world’s steepest, so the native brands have a real opportunity to make new customers from travelling fans. Brands like Adreana Degreas (swimwear), Tessa Packard (jewellery) and Patricia Bonaldi (wedding dresses) are just three designers who are hoping for an opportunity to showcase their talents to the world this summer.
Even Frescobol Carioca (the brand behind Brazil’s version of beach tennis), which is already available on Mr Porter and other global outlets, will be hoping the Games can open up new markets.
And why shouldn’t the home-grown businesses have that chance? They’d never normally be able to compete for the consumers’ attention against the likes of Ralph Lauren, Omega or Hermès. The fact they can for just a few weeks every four years thanks to the Olympics is to be celebrated.
So whilst Rio 2016 provides an opportunity for luxury brands of all sizes and ambitions to go for gold, the local ones will start just that bit closer to the finishing line. We think that’s a good thing.