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Let the Games begin: Fashion and Sponsorship at the 2024 Paris Olympics

by Emily Gray

3 min read

The Olympic Games have long been a platform for the world’s top athletes to showcase their skills, but they also serve as a grand stage for brands to connect with a global audience. This year, the intersection of luxury and the Olympics is more prominent than ever, with businesses like LVMH leading the charge. With the landscape of sponsorship evolving, including the relaxed rule 40, now allowing for unofficial sponsors to activate directly with athletes, this Olympic year presents new opportunities and challenges for luxury brands.

Official Sponsors Need to Go Big or Go Home

Luxury brands have always been drawn to the prestige and global reach of the Olympics. This year, LVMH’s  portfolio, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Moët Hennessy, has taken centre stage as an official sponsor. The partnership aligns perfectly with LVMH’s strategy to associate its brands with excellence, craftsmanship, and elite performance.

Given the investment, an estimated 150 million euros+, we can expect to see activation that goes well beyond advertising, including: exclusive collaborations with Olympic committees and bespoke and highly collectable products inspired by the Games.

The Warm Up – Dior Channelling Athletic Antiquity Couture

Dior is already off the starting blocks having just revealed their Olympic themed haute couture show at the end of June, staged at the Rodin Museum. Dedicated to Olympians, the show was a testament to the enduring influence of athletic prowess and historical grandeur. Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, collaborated with artist Faith Ringgold to create a visually stunning display that celebrated female athletes’ determination and achievements.

The catwalk featured over 30 giant images of women in various sports, originally mosaics for the LA subway and reproduced in cloth by the Chanakya School of Craft in India. The collection itself was rich with references to Ancient Greece, with peplum-inspired designs, ecru jersey dresses embellished with gold motifs, and athletic couture bodysuits that combined elegance with functionality.

SKIMS Maximising Brand Value Under ‘Inclusivity’ Theme

Building on the success of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, SKIMS will again sponsor Team USA, marking their third collaboration. This collection, the largest to date, signifies a significant step in promoting their shared values.

The new Olympic motto now reads Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter or for those not fluent in Latin, Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together. The SKIMS brand has been built on the pillars of: comfort, aesthetic appeal and most importantly, inclusivity. It’s this theme and the notion of togetherness and accessibility that make the partnership a great fit. This Olympic collection will represent the most inclusive yet, with SKIMS Mens, SKIMS Swim, and SKIMS Adaptive ranges for the first time.

The Rise of Unofficial Sponsors: Nike & Simone Biles

This year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has relaxed stringent rules that previously restricted athlete endorsements during the Games, opening the door for unofficial sponsors to engage directly with athletes. Brands that are not official sponsors can now collaborate with athletes for social media campaigns, personal appearances, and bespoke product endorsements, provided these activities do not reference the Olympics directly. This new freedom is particularly appealing to emerging luxury brands and niche players seeking to leverage the influence of top athletes without the hefty price tag of official sponsorship.

The increasing convergence of sports marketing with luxury, and cultural icons has seen many notable partnerships:

  • Alo x Beats featuring Grammy Winner Tyla 
  • Loewe x ON featuring American runner Aaliyah Miller 
  • Canada Goose x NBA featuring Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

And despite Nike’s share price hitting a 4-year-low this month, I’d be remiss not to mention them as the masters of culturally relevant brand partnerships. Nike will be looking, now more than ever, to take advantage of their multiyear USA Gymnastics sponsorship. A genius strategic move ensuring the brands presence without the need for official Olympic partnership. Especially powerful this year, given the huge anticipation and draw of GOAT Simone Biles as she sets her sights on gold following the unfortunate ‘Twisties’ in Tokyo 2020.

Compliance, Culture and Cut-through. 

While the relaxed rules present new opportunities, they also bring challenges. Brands must navigate the complex regulations of the IOC and national Olympic committees to ensure compliance. The increased competition among unofficial sponsors means that brands need to be even more creative and culturally connected in their activations to stand out – TikTok in particular, presents a real opportunity to cut through, if only for a short moment. 

For luxury brands, official sponsors must navigate the risk of oversaturation and maintaining exclusivity. Unofficial sponsors are contending with the perception of superficial associations with athletes via ‘flash-in-the-pan’ style activation. With more brands vying for attention than ever before, brands should focus on their shared values, building long-term authentic relationships with athletes rather than one-off endorsements.

Final Words

With over 13 million spectators expected to attend, and an estimated 4 billion television viewers worldwide, the Paris 2024 Olympics offers unparalleled global exposure for brands strategic and creative enough to maximise its impact. Whether through bespoke collectible products, authentic partnerships with athletes, or community social activation, the goal remains the same: capture and translate the essence of the Olympics story for your brand.

Fame, gold and glory will be yours. 

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Emily Gray

→ Emily Gray brings extensive knowledge from her combined agency, client, and startup background, having worked with brands such as Diageo, Bank of New York, Vanguard, ANZ, SchweppesAsahi and O2. She specialises in connecting creativity and commercial outcomes and is a trusted advisor to both CMOs and CXOs alike.

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