Olympic Mania Getting Stronger
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
The first week of the 2008 Beijing Olympics is over, but Olympic mania is only getting stronger. Turn on the television, and Olympic competitions are being shown in a seemingly endless loop. Newspapers and Web sites are flooded with Olympics news, photos and videos.
Multinational brands like Samsung, McDonald's and Coca-Cola have spared no expense with commercials reminding everyone that they are the official sponsors of the Olympics.
Other brands, even if they're not officially affiliated with the Olympics, have jumped on the bandwagon, coming up with limited edition products to commemorate the Games.
There's no escaping the Olympics at least for one more week. Until then, sit back, relax, watch the Games and ``buy" some Olympic spirit with special edition Olympics goods available at stores now.
Sportswear giant Adidas is the official sportswear partner of the Beijing Games, providing outfits for over 3,000 athletes, 16 national committees, 214 country federations, as well as 100,000 volunteers and staff.
Adidas even produced a complete Olympic product range ``Made for Beijing'' worn by the athletes during the Games. This includes adiPure football boots, adiStar weightlifting shoes, adiStar Team Sole running shoe and TS Promodel Olympic basketball shoes, which feature the single layer ClimaCool Mesh, inspired by the National Stadium's ``Bird's Nest'' architectural feature.
``For the first time ever, this entire range will be available to consumers around the world, whether they are looking for the best performance product for their sport or simply the look of their favorite Olympic athlete,'' Adidas said.
Rival brand Nike is not an official sponsor, but is still getting a lot of attention. It designed the uniforms of the American basketball team and stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Jason Kidd are all wearing the Nike-gear.
Nike also launched the Rejuven8 shoe, described as breathable and comfortable, for the Nike athletes at the Olympics. The special edition version features Olympic ring colored liner on the soles, and comes with a shoe bag with a unique 8 Beijing logo.
The five colorful ``fuwa'' Olympic mascots named Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini are literally everywhere, from mugs to toys to shirts. The cute mascots are almost always on the official Beijing Olympic T-shirts.
If you don't fancy wearing T-shirts that scream Beijing Olympics, you can opt for Basic House's Olympic-inspired line of T-shirts.
Basic House, a casual clothing brand in Korea, introduced a line of ``Re-creating Korea: Hangeul Picto" T-shirts to commemorate the Olympics. They feature different Olympic sports, such as taekwondo, swimming, weightlifting, football and baseball, which were drawn using Hangeul characters. The shirts, which cost 14,900 won, are available in a range of summery colors.
Basic House may get a boost for its brand, since its model, swimmer Park Tae-hwan, already won a gold and silver medal at the Olympic Games.
Be stylish and patriotic at the same time by wearing Ralph Lauren's Flag Polo collection. Korean fans can get the Flag Polo shirt, which features the taegeukgi (Korean flag) on the front and the words Korea emblazoned on the back. It is available for men and women, and costs around 135,000 won.
Incidentally, Ralph Lauren specially designed the clean, preppy uniforms worn by American athletes during the Olympics opening ceremony. Team USA looked stylish and professional with their crisp navy blue blazers, white pants, matching neckties and white twill newsboy caps.
All the items worn by Team USA are from the Ralph Lauren Olympic Games collection. The navy and red striped silk necktie costs $115, while the Polo T-shirt with Beijing written in Chinese characters costs $125.
Luxury designer brands have come up with special edition items, some of which are inspired by Chinese culture, in honor of the Olympics.
The Games' official timekeeper Omega launched a series of limited edition watches a year ago, with launch dates corresponding with the countdown dates to the Olympics.
Combining glamor with sport, the Omega watches are available in numbered limited editions. The Omega Speedmaster 5-Counter Chronograph replicates the design of the Olympic rings, with the five counters indicating seconds, elapsed days, day of the week, chronograph hours and chronograph minutes. It is available in 18K red gold, 18k yellow gold and stainless steel.
The most sought-after watch would have to be the Omega Seamaster XXIX limited edition watch. Only 88 watches are being sold in selected stores in China from Aug. 8 to Aug. 24.
Italian luxury brand Prada came up with a series of colorful nylon tote bags, pouches, T-shirts and keychains to celebrate the occasion. All the items are decorated with extremely cute teddy bears playing Olympic sports like swimming, judo and hockey. The items cost from $180 for Prada T-shirts to $930 for the nylon tote bags.
Gucci came out with a special Beijing Olympics collection designed by its creative director Frida Giannini called ``8-8-2008 Gucci Limited Edition." The eight items include a stylish wristwatch, a red bicycle with leather detailing featuring the interlocking GG logo, a mahjong set covered in leather, red bags, sneakers and a leather panda bear.
The collection is designed in red, which symbolizes happiness. It also features the number eight, considered a lucky number in Chinese culture.
``Not only does red evoke `Happiness' and `Celebration' ― two emotions that couldn't be more appropriate to describe the excitement in the world of sports ― but it also happens to be a very fashionable color for 2008! I also designed just 8 products for this collection, which mirror the lucky number 8 in Chinese culture," Giannini said, in a statement.
The I-Gucci watch is the first digital watch designed by the high end brand. It combines Gucci's sleek design with sporty elegance. The red monochrome rubber strap is embossed with the Gucci logo on one side, and the GG pattern on the other.
Except for the I-Gucci watch which will be sold worldwide, the rest of the Gucci limited edition 8-8-2008 products are only sold at selected stores in China and Hong Kong.
Olympic Phone, USB
Samsung, an official sponsor of the Olympics, released a line of special edition Olympic phones. The stylish U900 Olympic Soul phones are designed with a 2008 Olympic logo on the back. Users can also use Olympic wallpapers, screensavers and other content, which are preloaded in the phone. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera with flash, video recording; touch-sensitive navigation panel, music player, email and 128 megabytes of internal memory. It is only available in Korea and retails for 699,600 won.
Chinese computer maker Lenovo came up with limited edition USB flash drives designed with Olympic logos and mascots. There's an USB flash drive made from the same material as the Olympic torch, and a set of six 4-gigabyte flash drives each featuring Fuwa and the Olympic logo.
Get into the Olympic mood by listening to the official album for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games ``One World One Dream.'' Released by SonyBMG, the album features a mix of cheerful songs and heartfelt ballads by Westlife, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Backstreet Boys, John Mayer, as well as Chinese singers Sun Nan, Coco Lee, David Huang and Tan Jing.
Also included in the album is ``Light the Passion, Share the Dream,'' the official song for the Beijing Olympic torch relay, and sung by the contestants of the 2008 Miss World beauty pageant.
And if all this is too much, just grab one of those Big Mac set meals at fast food chain McDonalds to get an Olympic glass. It might be the only Olympic souvenir available for free.