The Summer Games may be coming to a close, but not without one final opportunity to cash in on Olympic fever.
No, we’re not talking about eBay sellers auctioning off a genuine $41,000 Olympic torch. Or online vendors offering Olympic souvenirs ranging from T-shirts to Team USA wineglasses. Instead, we’re talking businesses tying that noble Olympian ideal to anything they happen to be hawking, whether it’s a bottle of tequila or a specialty ladies’ undergarment. After all, is there any game greater than good ol’ capitalism?
The battle for publicity between the companies that paid to sponsor the 2012 London Games and those that saved their gold is not, itself, an Olympic sport. But experts say it’s just as competitive.
Brands have spent more on these Games than on any previous Olympics. The 11 worldwide sponsors – including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Visa — have paid $957 million for marketing rights over the past four years, which includes their support of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. That’s up 10% over the $866 million spent by the worldwide sponsors on the Beijing and Turin Games. Still, there’s nothing to stop competing brands from piggybacking on to the Olympics to promote themselves. “These sponsors face a big challenge to protect their $100 million investments from the campaigns of outsiders,” says Jennifer P. Brown, spokeswoman for social media marketing company Izea.
So you didn’t make it to London for this year’s Summer Games. That doesn’t mean an Olympic journey is out of the question.
Savvy travelers say Olympic host cities can be great places to visit even long after the games have passed. That’s not only because they’re major destinations unto themselves – perhaps you’ve heard of a little town called Athens? – but also because many of them maintain their Olympic ties by offering Olympic attractions of one sort or another.
Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be Olympians.
It may not have the ring of the original Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings song title, but it certainly applies – considering some of the financial back-stories at the London Olympics. Think about U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, whose divorced parents are facing the foreclosure of their Florida home. Or U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, whose mother filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. One of four children, Douglas all but acknowledged earlier this week how her budding Olympic career took an economic toll. “It was definitely hard on my mom, taking care of me and my siblings,” she told the New York Post.
When it comes to the Olympics, one medal comes first: gold. But which metal is best for investors?
It seems hard to argue with the yellow metal, especially after its historic 11-year bull run. In the past five years alone, gold prices have soared 140%, to $1,616 an ounce. But even some of the biggest gold bugs question whether the shiny stuff can keep this going. And silver, while less valuable, has had nearly as good a rally — with prices rising 115%, to about $28 an ounce.
Some financial advisers tout their stock-picking success. Others point to the many designations – certified financial planner, chartered financial analyst, certified retirement financial adviser – they have attached to their name.
But a select few can boast of an altogether different credential – one that has seemingly little to do with investing, but that’s sure to catch many an investor’s attention: former Olympian.
If you’re an Olympic fanatic, why not carry the torch for the games – literally? Yes, genuine Olympic torches, including the same ones carried in the weeks and days leading up to the London summer showcase, have found their way on to the memorabilia market. And they’re going for some very gold-medal-worthy prices on eBay. An Australian dealer is hawking a torch for $41,000, touting the “chance to own an OFFICIAL piece of Olympic history” and describing the cone-shaped collectible as a “magnificent piece” that’s “beautifully engineered.” Another seller prices a torch at a more “modest” $4,900, but concedes it lacks “the burner system inside” (loose translation: good luck lighting the thing). Still, the seller says it could be a “fantastic” piece “for your sporting memorabilia collection.”
During this Summer Games, a gifted few will run short bursts at over 25 miles per hour, lift triple their body weight overhead or jump nearly eight feet into the air. But no one will ever be talented enough to calculate a precise financial return on London’s Olympic investment.
If someone could do the math, evidence suggests the return would almost surely be negative. That’s OK. Weddings have negative financial returns, too. People still like them.
Roughly the size of a countertop bread machine, this minute washer is maybe big enough to contain two adult T-shirts.
Manufacturer Haier introduced it in China a year ago, and is currently market testing the $100 device for possible U.S. sale. When we (admittedly, incredulously) asked who’d want one, a spokesman said they’re targeting a growing green movement among parents who use cloth diapers. Most parents, he says, send the soiled diapers out to a specialized cleaning service to avoid tossing them in with the rest of the laundry. He speculated that the device could also be useful for cleaning chlorine-logged swimsuits, delicate items or even regular laundry — in small doses — for RV travelers.
Remember the Segway? Back in 2001, analysts hailed the two-wheeled electric vehicle as the next big thing in personal transportation. But at 100 pounds and a price tag of more than $5,000, it didn’t roll with most lifestyles.
Inventist is taking another stab at the category, with the new Solowheel. Here’s how this 21st Century unicycle works: Users zip along on the battery-powered device’s single wheel with their feet on pedals to either side. (OK, “zip” is relative. It goes 10mph, max.)
Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to email@example.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.