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The winning athlete gets the sales

Scott Tong Aug 22, 2008
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The winning athlete gets the sales

Scott Tong Aug 22, 2008
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Chocoholics better start saving. Last week Hershey’s said it was raising prices. Now Mars is following suit. The cost of M&Ms, Snickers and the like will jump more than 10 percent. All told, it’s a sweet week for the candy-maker. Mars is very satisfied with the results of its Olympic ad campaign for Snickers. Snickers has been available in China for about 15 years. But it hadn’t really taken off. Then the candy bar became the official chocolate of the Olympic Games. Chinese sales have jumped 75 percent.

It’s just too bad sneakers aren’t seeing that Snickers effect. Adidas is the official shoe of the Olympic games, but Puma is getting all the traction. That’s thanks to the success of a Jamaican sprinter, as Marketplace’s Scott Tong explains.


Scott Tong: One hour. That’s how quickly Puma’s Usain Bolt shoe sold out in Beijing yesterday. It’s the same shoe Bolt held up and kissed before the TV cameras after winning the gold medal.

The Jamaican showboater plays well to Chinese fans — and to Puma’s image, says brand consultant Mary Bergstrom.

Mary Bergstrom: Puma is perceived largely in china as a niche, styly brand. So having a Jamaican sprinter be a representative of your brand actually fits in quite well.

Puma’s coup is the second for an upstart shoe company in the Beijing Games. On opening night, Chinese Olympic legend Li Ning lit the flame. He founded an up-and coming Chinese sneaker company.

All this undercuts Adidas, which paid more than $100 million to be an official sponsor. Adidas also bet on the wrong sprinter — American Tyson Gay goes home with no medals. Nike, meanwhile, rushed out a special edition track spike for Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang. He pulled out injured.

In Beijing, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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