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Polo Ralph Lauren has long enjoyed a prestigious brand image, and its most recent branding strategy continues that effect through sponsorships of elite sporting events. Specifically, Polo purchased the exclusive rights to make clothing for some of theU.S.Olympic teams at the Vancouver Games in February 2010 and the London Games in 2012. The goal for Polo, which suffered a 57 percent profit decline in the second quarter of 2009, is to let patriotism and sports boost its sales and brand image.

In 2005, Polo provided apparel to the U.S. Open Tennis tournament. In 2006, it signed an ongoing deal to dress the on-court officials at Wimbledon. These tennis deals quadrupled the sales of tennis-inspired products by Polo last year.

Buoyed by such successes, Polo is doubling its marketing budget for the Vancouver Games compared with its spending on sponsorships in Beijing in 2008. However, expectations for theVancouverGames are generally lower, though they will be broadcast duringU.S.prime time, which should increase viewership. Sponsored athletes will wear snowflake sweaters, knit caps, and parkas at the opening and closing ceremonies, featuring both the Olympic seal and, on approximately half the items, a Polo player logo. By sponsoring Olympic teams, rather than individual athletes, Polo hopes to minimize the risk of sponsoring one particular athlete.

To make use of this Olympic appeal, the company will produce a limited edition line of consumer clothing, featuring 234 different styles at prices ranging from $25 to $595. Polo claims that it expects sales of Olympic-inspired merchandise to increase by ten times compared with those for its Beijing-related apparel.

Discussion Questions:

Why is Polo sponsoring the Olympic games?

Rachel Dodes, “Polo Ralph Lauren Lengthens its Olympic Run,” Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2009.

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