Ambush Marketing (and Marketing) Awards for the Sochi Winter Games Announced

 ”Sochi Games Brand Marketing Report:  Post-Games Analysis”  is now available; order here.

Olympic Wrap-up, March 2014 Austin, Texas — The Global Language Monitor announced that Red Bull has taken the Gold for the Top Ambush Marketing Campaign, while Proctor & Gamble out-dueled a resurgent Samsung to take the Gold for the Top Marketing Campaign by an Official Sponsor for the recently concluded XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.   For the Ambushers, Red Bull led comfortably over Subway, which took the Silver, and Rolex, a surprise winner of the Bronze;  Rolex was in a very tight race with both Unilever and Siemens.  The complete “Sochi Games Brand Marketing Report:  Post-Games Analysis”  is now available for download order here.

Following P&G for the Official Sponsors were Samsung taking the Silver, and Coca-Cola hauling in the Bronze.   P&G, Samsung and Coca-Cola all had critically acclaimed marketing campaigns that were well-received by global audiences.

The awards are determined by Global Language Monitor’s (GLM) Brand Affiliation Index (BAI),  a proprietary, longitudinal study that analyzes the global association between (and among) individual brands and their competitors or, in this case, the Sochi Winter Games.  In the study, The Global Language Monitor measured several dozen factors, closely examining all marketing movement extending from London 2012 to projections for the Rio 2016.  GLM has been tracking the Olympics in this manner  since the Beijing Summer Games.

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The Terra Cotta medal, the new award for least successful marketing campaign by an official partner, was contested by Visa Card, Omega, and Atos.

Visa Card had the visibility without the impact of the P&G, Coke, and Samsung efforts.  Omega’s rank is a conundrum:  It appeared on the screen during every timed event, yet it, apparently, did not register in the minds of the global audience.  (This needs to be rectified.)  And Atos apparently doesn’t mind ‘winning’ the first Terra Cotta medal, since it has been dubbed the ‘Unsung Hero’ of the Games for creating Sochi’s vast (and effective) IT infrastructure.

“The value of Olympic sponsorship continues to rise as evidenced by the bold attempts by the Ambush Marketers to associate their brands with the Sochi Winter Games.” said Paul JJ Payack, president and Chief Word Analyst, the Global Language Monitor.   “The more stringent the legislation to outlaw any effort to ‘ambush’ the Games, the more marketers seem intent on circumventing the rules.  And the more news related to ‘ambushing’ is highlighted by the media.  An example is a Sochi official taping over Apple’s logo in plain site of the global media (#EpicFailure)”.

GLM uses its proprietary algorithmic services to perform brand audits, enabling organizations to judge their brand performance between and among their competitors and their peers.  The higher the BAI (Brand Affiliation Index) the closer the brand affiliation with the primary brand, in this case the Sochi Winter Olympics. Of course, not all Ambush Marketers plan to steal the Olympic glow from their competitors, a cost estimated to be up to $1 billion, fully loaded, over a four-year Olympiad.

Therefore, GLM uses the term Non-affiliated Marketers (NAM) for those, like Starbucks, who seem to engender a false impression of Olympic sponsorship, our research shows, because of their immense size, health-oriented menu, and image of busy, successful people dashing in and out. Nike, for example, is proud of its Ambush Marketing ‘stunts’ such as the ‘Yellow-Green Neon Shoe’ escapade in London 2012 — and the record backs them up.

The Sochi All Marketers Final Ranking by BAI  is shown below.

Sochi All Marketers BAI Final

Of particular note are the following.

0  Red Bull’s connection with extreme and ‘uber-extreme’ sports has paid off, once again.  Red Bull topped all marketers (official and otherwise), out-distancing the Gold-winning P&G, the top official sponsor, by some nine percent.

o  The Nike Stunt that Never Was — Though long anticipated, and expected, never materialized.  At the end of the London Summer Games, Nike’s BAI reached 223.98, compared with its final Sochi BAI of 30.25, a net difference of nearly 200 points. Nevertheless, the fact that some twenty months after London,  Nike is still ahead of three official Sponsors is testament to the lasting power of the London Stunt.

o  P&G’s “Thank you, Mom” campaign had viewers anticipating and actually recording the commercials for later viewing.  The 316% increase from already-solid final London numbers is well deserved.

o  Subway, the Ambush Silver medalist’s year-round promotions with current and former Olympic icons worked once again.  Subway’s 176.31 BAI topped that of eight of the 10 official sponsors.

0  In the battle between Coca-Cola, the Bronze medalist, and McDonald’s, long-time Olympic sponsors (and rivals), Coke more than doubled McDonald’s BAI (171.59 to 85.22).   The back story here:  Coca-Cola rose 48% from it London final, while McDonald’s was down about 8%.

o  Unilever (109.73), the P&G rival finished as the No. 4 NAM and No.8 marketer overall.  Unilever rose some 800% over its London final (11.93).

o  GE had a noteworthy Olympics rising some 60% over a very respectable London performance (91.22 vs 55.97).  GE’s commercials deftly detailed its incredibly broad range of products and services in a very entertaining manner.  Rival Siemens also scored well, in fact, actually besting GE by about nine percent.

o  Apple Computer and Burton Snowboards both made an impression with the worldwide audience:  the former with the ‘tape incident’ where an Apple logo was taped over by a Sochi official (Mistake:  taping in full view  of the media) during a skating competition, and Burton, for its brazen attempt to place its over-sized logo on the very visible  underside of the boards of prominent snowboarders.

London to end of Sochi
Change Over Course of Sochi


In the study, GLM measured several dozen factors, including the change in BAI from the end of the London Summer Games in 2012 to the end of the Sochi Winter Games for both Top Partners and Non-Affiliated Marketers.

In percentage gains, the Top Partners almost doubled, rising over 95%.  The biggest movers were Samsung, P&G, and Dow — all scoring triple-digit gains by percentage.

However, the Non-Affiliated Marketers on the average almost quadrupled, up over 358%.

.The largest gainers were Rolex (with a 1500% gain), Red Bull,Unilever, DuPont, and Siemens (all with triple-digit gains), and Subway.

Measuring brands movements during the Sochi Games,themselves,  six of the Top Ten gainers were Ambushers, as shown below.

Sochi Change During Games

Red Bull made the largest move during the Sochi Games, followed by Top Partners GE and DOW.   Coca-Cola and McDonald’s (at No. 7 and 8) were the other Top Partners in the top ten.  Non-Affiliated Marketers Unilever, DuPont, IBM Global Services, Nike, and Starbucks all made strong moves during the Games.

The “Sochi Games Brand Marketing Report:  Post-Games Analysis”  is now available; order here.

Over the last four Olympics, the Global Language Monitor has been using its Brand Affiliation Index and NarrativeTracker technology to measure the relationship of the official Sponsors and their competitors to the various Olympics brands. This is a longitudinal study that reaches back to the Beijing Summer Games in 2008. The names of the sponsors change rarely, but the non-affiliated competitors remain a core group with others that come on to the Olympic platform for but a cycle or two. GLM has found that there are many misconceptions continue to persist despite the evidence.

If you are looking for these or similar analyses for your event, company, organization, university, or brands, call 1.512.815.8836, or email info@LanguageMonitor.com.

About the Global Language Monitor
Austin-Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English. This exclusive ranking is based upon GLM’s Narrative Tracking technology.  NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 250,000 print and electronic news media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter) as they emerge.  The words, phrases and concepts are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.
In 2003, The Global Language Monitor (GLM) was founded in Silicon Valley by Paul J.J. Payack on the understanding that new technologies and techniques were necessary for truly understanding the world of Big Data, as it is now known.  GLM provides a number of innovative products and services that utilize its ‘algorithmic services’ to help worldwide customers protect, defend and nurture their branded products and entities.  Products include ‘brand audits’ to assess the current status, establish baselines, and competitive benchmarks for current intellectual assets and brands.
These services are currently provided to the Fortune 500, the Higher Education market, high technology firms, the worldwide print and electronic media, and the global fashion industry, among others.
For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.
 ”Sochi Games Brand Marketing Report:  Post-Games Analysis”  is now available for download order here.

 

 

 

Ambush Marketers Continue to Dominate

Olympic Ambush Marketers Continue to Dominate London 2012

Nike over Adidas; BA Trails Three Competitors; Subway and Pizza Hut Top McDonald’s


Kate Middleton ‘Brand’ Tops Coke, Adidas, and BA

Austin, Texas. Weekend May 4-6, 2012.  Ambush Marketers continue to dominate the run-up to the London Summer Games.  In fact ‘non-affiliated marketers’ took 27 of the top 50 spots measuring effective brand activation by the Global Language Monitor’s Brand Affiliation Index (BAI).

This despite the recent tightening of the rules by the IOC,  The GLM BAI rankings are not simply a matter of pride or bragging rights but rather a battle for brand equity and the consumer’s mind and the billions of dollars committed to the IOC, which are primarily used to fund the Games.

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“The Olympic movement it is not immune to the historic shifts in communications affecting all institutions worldwide,” said Paul JJ Payack, founding president of the Global Language Monitor. “The seemingly all-pervasive media ensure that the flow of information can be stopped neither by national boundaries nor institutional gatekeepers.   There is no reason to think that marketing activities are immune from such forces.  In fact, marketing has been one of the foremost purveyors of new media technology.”

For these rankings GLM measured the strength of the brand affiliation for each official Olympic sponsor against those of their primary non-affiliated competitors. Though ‘ambush marketing’ is well understood to mean an organization knowingly exploiting a brand affiliation with the Games without the benefit of official sponsorship.

All perceived Olympic affiliations according to their presence in the global media, and statistically linked to the London Games, qualify for GLM’s Ambush Marketing rankings.

The GLM Brand Affiliation Index for this analysis, ranged from a high of 524.45 to a low of 1.49.  The higher the score, the closer the brand affiliation with an event.

GLM has been tracking ambush marketing at the Olympics since the Beijing Games in 2008.  For London 2012, GLM began the three tiers of official sponsors since the third quarter of 2011.  These results are based on a study concluded on May 1,  2012.

With its Branded Individual Index (BII) GLM also tracks the brand equity of the athletes before and during the Games.

The official Olympic sponsors are divided into three tiers:  Worldwide Partners, Official Partners, and Official Supporters. GLM tracks over fifty non-affiliated companies that are direct competitors with the Official Olympic sponsors.

To schedule a confidential consultation, call +1.512.815.8836.

For these rankings, encompassing the first quarter of 2012, GLM measured the strength of the brand affiliation for each official Olympic sponsor against those of their primary non-affiliated competitors. Though ‘ambush marketing’ is well understood to mean an organization knowingly exploiting a brand affiliation with the Games without the benefit of official sponsorship.

All perceived Olympic affiliations according to their presence in the global media, and statistically linked to the London Games, qualify for GLM’s Ambush Marketing rankings.

The top findings include:

  1. McDonald’s is in a tough fight, ranking behind Subway and Pizza Hut, but beating KFC.
  2. Ambusher Nike leads Partner Adidas by a wide margin.
  3. British Airways trails ambushers Lufthansa, United and Air France in the rankings.
  4. Royal Philip outpaced ever-strong GE.
  5. P&G continues to crush ambush competitors as it did in Vancouver.
  6. Ambusher Ericsson Over Supporter Cisco by a 3:1 margin.

The Duchess Effect Meets the Summer Games

One interesting side note is that even the Summer Games are encountering the Duchess Effect.  The GLM BAI analysis showed that when linked with London  2012, Kate Middleton had a closer brand affiliation than a number of top sponsors including Coke, Adidas, BA and Panasonic, among others.

This again demonstrates the power of the ‘Kate Middleton Brand’.  A Tier 1 Olympic sponsor pays about $160 million for the privilege, plus the attendant advertising fees promoting the relationship that can cost upwards of $500 million over the four-year arrangement.  This would suggest that the Kate Middleton Brand could be valued at nearly a billion dollars or more, just in relationship to Summer Games.
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The Top Ten Official Olympic Sponsors by BAI are listed below.

1 Arcelor Mittal Supporter
2 EDF energy Partner
3 BT Group Partner
4 Thomas Cook Supporter
5 UPS Supporter
6 Lloyds TSB Partner
7 Cadbury Supporter
8 BP Partner
9 P&G IOC
10 ATOS IOC

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The Top Ten non-Olympic Affiliated Marketers by BAI are listed below.

1 Centrica AMB OP
2 Eon Energy UK AMB OP
3 Barclaycard AMB IOC
4 Schroders AMB OP
5 Royal Philips AMB IOC
6 EI DuPont AMB IOC
7 Kraft AMB SUP
8 Ericsson Comm AMB SUP
9 Subway AMB IOC
10 Lufthansa AMB OP

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The Top Twenty Combined Olympic Sponsors and Non-Affiliated Marketers Ranked by BAI.

1 Arcelor Mittal Supporter
2 EDF energy Partner
3 BT Group Partner
4 Centrica AMB OP
5 Eon Energy UK AMB OP
6 Thomas Cook Supporter
7 Barclaycard AMB IOC
8 UPS Supporter
9 Schroders AMB OP
10 Lloyds TSB Partner
11 Cadbury Supporter
12 BP Partner
13 Royal Philips AMB IOC
14 P&G IOC
15 ATOS IOC
16 EI DuPont AMB IOC
17 Kraft AMB SUP
18 Ericsson Comm AMB SUP
19 Subway AMB IOC
20 Lufthansa AMB OP

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The GLM Brand Affiliation Index for this analysis, ranged from a high of 524.45 to a low of 1.49.  The higher the score, the closer the brand affiliation with an event.

GLM has been tracking ambush marketing at the Olympics since the Beijing Games in 2008.  For London 2012, GLM began the three tiers of official sponsors since the third quarter of 2011.  These results are based on a study concluded on March 31,  2012.

With its Branded Individual Index (BII) GLM also tracks the brand equity of the athletes before and during the Games.

The official Olympic sponsors are divided into three tiers:  Worldwide Partners, Official Partners, and Official Supporters. GLM tracks over fifty non-affiliated companies that are direct competitors with the Official Olympic sponsors.

Customized GLM Ambush Marketing Rankings are released monthly up to and following London 2012.  The Ambush Marketing London 2012 report features dozens of charts representing the interrelationship of each company to the Olympic Brand, their competitors and their partners. In addition, the reports contain exclusive and individualized Narrative Tracker analyses, the most advanced trend tracking analytics available. For more information, individualized reports, or a monthly subscription, call +1.512.815.8836 or email info@LanguageMonitor.com

About Global Language Monitor:  ”We Tell You What the Web is Thinking”
Founded in Silicon Valley, Austin, Texas-based GLM collectively documents, analyzes and tracks trends worldwide, with a particular emphasis upon the English language.

GLM employs proprietary ‘algorithmic methodologies’ such as the NarrativeTracker for global Internet and social media analysis.  NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time.

NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 175,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new media sources, as they emerge.  For more information, individualized reports, or a monthly subscription, call +1.512.815.8836 or email info@LanguageMonitor.com

Top Trending Words of 2012 Mid-year Update

Obesogenic, Derecho (and gender-neutral ‘hen’) take on Apocalypse, Kate and Debt

Number of Words in the English Language:  1,016,672 (July 6 estimate)


AUSTIN, Texas July 10 – Trending 2012 Update: Obesogenic, Derecho (and the gender neutral ‘hen’) are taking on the Mayan Apocalypse, Kate, and Debt as candidates for the Top Word of the Year according to a mid-year update by the Global Language Monitor. Each year, GLM produces the top trending words for the following year just before the new year begins.  In 2011, it announced 12 possible candidates; mid-way through the year  the three new terms have been added to the list.

  • Obesogenic — An environment that tends to encourage obesity.  Lately it has been used to describe television advertisement that promote sugary and high-calorie snacks to kids.
  • Derecho — A ‘land hurricane,’ a sudden storm with extremely strong one-directional winds, such as occurred in the Eastern states earlier this month.
  • Hen — The Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her or combinations therefore: hen.

“The new words are taken from an intensifying debate on obesity as a major societal health crisis, a ‘land Hurricane’ that some link to global warming. and a move sometimes viewed as political correctness to end gender distinction among pronouns,”  said Paul JJ Payack, the president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  ”At 2012′s mid-point, there has been considerable movement among the top trending words, and that trend will no doubt continue as it has during the entire life of our 1400-year old language.”

 

To see the Top Words of 2012, go here.

 

The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion speakers (January 2012 estimate).

The Trending Top Words of 2012 in revised order:

Rank/ Previous Rank/ Word / Comments

1.  China (3) — Middle Kingdom – There is little indication that China’s continuing economic surge will fade from the global media spotlight –or abate.

2. Europe (12) — United, breaking apart, saving the Euro, abandoning the Euro, with the UK again as an ‘interested onlooker’.  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

3.  The Election (6) —  No Obama-mania this time around, more of an Obama-ennui for the November 6 elections.

4.  Kate (2) — There are seven billion humans on the planet but sometimes it seems that it’s all about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton in terms of fashion, celebrity, and the royal line. (And most definitely not Katie, the future ex-Mrs. Tom Cruise.)

5.  Deficit (7) — Looks like deficit-spending will plague Western democracies for at least the next decade.

6.  Global Warming (10)— The earth has been warming since New York was covered under a mountain of ice; what makes 2012 any different?

7.  Derecho (New) — A ‘land hurricane,’ a sudden storm with extremely strong one-directional winds, such as occurred in the Eastern states earlier this month.

8. Olympiad (2) — The Greeks measured time by the four-year interval between the Games.  Moderns measure it by medal counts, rights fees and billions of eyeballs.

9. CERN (9) — Neutrons traveling faster than light?  The ‘God Particle’? The world ending in a mini-black hole? All these somehow revolve around CERN (The European Center for Nuclear Research). One CERN scientist calculated that the chance of a mini-Black Hole swallowing the Earth is less than 1 in 50,000,000.  Somewhat comforting until you realize this is about ten times more likely than winning a national lottery.)

10.  Rogue nukes (8)—  Iran and North Korea will be the focus of attention here.

11.  Near-Earth Asteroid (11) —  Yet another year, another asteroid, another near-miss. (However, one does strike the Earth every one hundred million years or so.)

12.  Arab Spring (13) — the successor term for ‘Arab Spring’, whatever that might be.

13.  Bak’tun (4) — A cycle of  144,000 days in the Maya ‘Long Count’ Calendar. This bak’tun ends on December 21, 2012, also being called the Mayan Apocalypse.  (Actually Maya ‘long-count’ calendars stretch hundreds of millions of years into the future, December 21st merely marks the beginning of a new cycle.)

14. Solar max (5)—  The peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle;  in 1854 solar storms melted telegraph wires; what’s in store for our all-pervasive electronic infrastructure?

15. Hen (New) — The Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her or combinations thereof: hen.

16. Obesogenic (New) — An environment that tends to encourage obesity.  Lately it has been used to describe television advertisement that promote sugary and high-calorie snacks to kids.

The Top Words for 2011:  ‘Occupy’ was the Top Word, ‘Arab Spring’ the Top Phrase and ‘Steve Jobs’ the Top Name of 2011 in its twelfth annual global survey of the English language.

GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time.

NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 250,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.

Kate Middleton ‘Brand’ Tops London Olympics Sponsors in New Brand Affiliation Study

The Duchess Effect Meets the London Olympics

Kate previously helps London achieve Top Global Fashion Capital status

…  after toppling Lady Gaga for Top Fashion Buzzword

The Duchess
The Duchess

Austin, Texas. May 17, 2012 .  The Duchess Effect Meets the Summer Games, indeed.  According to the Global Language Monitor’s  London 2012 Ambush Marketing May 15 Update, even the Summer Games are encountering the Duchess Effect.  The GLM Brand Affiliation Index (BAI), when linked with London  2012, Kate Middleton had a closer brand affiliation that a number of top sponsors including Coke, Adidas, BA and Panasonic, among others.

This again demonstrates the power of the ‘Kate Middleton Brand’.  A Tier 1 Olympic sponsor pays about $160 million for the privilege, plus the attendant advertising fees promoting the relationship that can cost upwards of $500 million over the four-year arrangement.

This would suggest that the Kate Middleton Brand could be valued at nearly a billion dollars or more, just in relationship to Summer Games.

“This can be viewed as a two-edged sword for Sebastian Coe and the International Olympic Committee (IOC),” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst for the Global Language Monitor.

“On the one hand, the Duchess of Cambridge and her husband, are Olympic Ambassadors; on the other hand the Kate Middleton ‘brand scores’ higher that nearly half the paying sponsors, such as, Coke, Adidas, and BA, among many others.”

All perceived Olympic affiliations according to their presence in the global media, and statistically linked to the London Games, qualify for GLM’s Ambush Marketing rankings.

The official Olympic sponsors are divided into three tiers: Worldwide Partners, Official Partners, and Official Supporters. GLM tracks over fifty non-affiliated companies that are direct competitors with the Official Olympic sponsors.

Earlier this year, the former Kate Middleton has already helped propel London to the Top Global Fashion Capital ranking for 2011 and was named the Top Fashion Buzzword for 2012 topping even Lady Gaga, the previous year’s winner.

The Official Olympic Mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, fashioned from drops of steel, appear to pose little threat to Kate’s reign.

The London 2012 Mascots
The London 2012 Mascots

For these rankings, concluded on May 1, 2012, GLM measured the strength of the brand affiliation for each official Olympic sponsor against those of their primary non-affiliated competitors. Though ‘ambush marketing’ is well understood to mean an organization knowingly exploiting a brand affiliation with the Games without the benefit of official sponsorship.

GLM has been tracking the Olympics since the Athens Games in 2004 and ambush marketing since the Beijing Games in 2008.  For London 2012, GLM began tracking the three tiers of official sponsors since the third quarter of 2011.

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GLM also tracks the brand equity of the athletes before and during the Games.

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About Global Language Monitor:  ”We Tell You What the Web is Thinking”

Customized GLM Ambush Marketing Rankings are released monthly up to and following London 2012.  The Ambush Marketing London 2012 May 15 Update report features dozens of charts representing the interrelationship of each company to the Olympic Brand, their competitors and their partners. In addition, the reports contain exclusive and individualized Narrative Tracker analyses, the most advanced trend tracking analytics available. For more information, individualized reports, or a monthly subscription, call +1.512.815.8836 or email info@LanguageMonitor.com.

Who’s Sneaking into the London Games

A handful of clever marketers are ahead of official Olympic sponsors

 

By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine,

Sometimes perception is better than reality, and so it is for the brands that have managed to associate themselves with the Olympic Games without paying the exorbitant rights fees that come with official sponsorship.

They’re commonly referred to as “ambush marketers”, and though the London Games are still nearly a year away, some ambush marketers are making more of an impression on Olympic fans than the official sponsors.

That’s according to the first ambush marketing rankings for the London 2012 Olympic Games, released by The Global Language Monitor (GLM), which measures the strength of the brand affiliation between each of the worldwide partners, official partners, and official sponsors and the London Games and then compares it to competing companies that are not officially affiliated with the Games

Sony, Subway, DuPont, Barclay Card and Lenovo are the top five companies with the highest unofficial London brand affiliation.

All have a stronger association with the Games than the official sponsors they compete against.

They’ve achieved this by incorporating Olympic imagery into their ads, such as athletes competing in the sports being contested in London.

 

Though some object to the term “ambush”, it’s clear that their intention is to gain the positive affiliation with the Games without paying the sponsorship fees, which cost in the nine-figure range for top-level sponsorship.

“Few things in top-tier consumer-facing companies occur ‘naturally’ or ‘spontaneously,’ especially when they are engineered to look that way,” says Paul JJ Payack, president of GLM.

“This is why advertisers adept at associating themselves with an event, even though they are not ‘official’ sponsors of that event, can often out-perform official sponsors.”

Subway, for instance, is roughly two times as likely as official Olympics sponsor McDonald’s to be associated with the Games.

That’s mainly because swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Summer Olympian ever, appears in Subway ads.

“Subway is acknowledged as a leader in this regard [ambush marketing] with their close ties to Michael Phelps, who in many minds personifies the Olympic brand and spirit: clean-living, hard-work, pulling himself up by his own bootstraps,” says Payack.

Some sponsors are still reaping the benefits of past sponsorship. Lenovo, for example, ended its sponsorship deal after the 2008 Beijing Games, but the company is three times as likely as the computer vendor that took its place, Acer, to be associated with the Olympics.

The benefit to these ambush marketers is clear.

They get all of the positives of Olympic sponsorship – the feel-good vibes, the legitimacy, the eyeballs – at a much lower expense.

The International Olympic Committee is not happy about this, of course.

During last year’s Vancouver Games, it successfully lobbied the Canadian Parliament to pass a bill restricting the use of certain combinations of words and numbers in advertising, such as snow, winter and games, to prevent non-sponsors from piggybacking on the Games.

Still, clever advertisers always find a way around that.

Red Bull, which consistently ranks near the top of the ambush list, recently bought naming rights to the new velodrome in London that will house the indoor bicycle events, ensuring the brand name will be heard in broadcasts even if its ads will not.

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More: Who really won in Vancouver: Ambushers

Those in charge decide which words matter

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.By Michael Skapinker

Is “aarrghh” a word? Not if you are playing Scrabble with me. If it is not in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary: put your tiles back and think again. “Aargh” is acceptable (an expression of anguish, horror, rage, or other strong emotion, according to the OED), but not “aarrghh”. My board, my rules.

Others disagree. “Aarrghh” appears in the Collins Official Scrabble Words. Collins’ latest edition also includes “thang”, “innit” and “nang”. Commentators greeted the Scrabble book by bemoaning the decline of the language and berating publishers who pandered to the young.

The new Collins book appeared on the same day that the CBI, the UK employers’ organisation, published a survey showing that 42 per cent of companies were dissatisfied with school leavers’ English skills. Are the two events connected?

Read more here.

Global Language Monitor’s comment about the supposed ‘decline of English’.

We at the Global Language Monitor have noted that for at least two hundred years folks as diverse as Benjamin Franklin (eliminating and adding new letters), Noah Webster and George Bernard Shaw (simplifying spelling), and George Orwell (simplifying grammar) have long argued. Ghoti and chips anyone?

Now that this is actually happening in the early 21st century, it is most interesting to note that these changes are being driven by the youthful users of the language, as has been the case since the earliest days of the language.

Consider: Sumer is icumen in! / Lhude sing cuccu!

Which ancient forbear playing an early version of Scrabble(tm), had the audacity to recognize ‘cuckoo’ for ‘cuccu’ or for that matter accept ‘loud’ for ‘lhude’?

One note of caution: these same folks have decided that is perfectly fine to intermix letters with words, so you now can find ‘gr8′ substituting for ‘great’.

Is this something the up with which you will simply not put?

Paul JJ Payack

Did Watson Really Beat Humans on Jeopardy? We Think Not!

Analysis into the ‘natural language processing’ claim.

AUSTIN, TEXAS.  March 1, 2011 — An analysis by the Global Language Monitor has found that Watson, the IBM Computer specifically designed to compete on the Jeopardy television show was not the victory of a machine tackling ‘natural language processing’  that many had been led to believe but rather a “a massive marketing coup,” as described in the Boston Globe.

When Watson bested two live-wear, carbon-based lifeforms named Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, on the Jeopardy Television show a few days ago, it was widely viewed as a great advance in ‘natural language processing’.  Natural Language Processing is concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages.

As Ben Zimmer in the New York Times put it, Watson “came through with flying colors.”  And he was certainly not alone in his judgment.  There were many comparisons to the John Henry man vs. machine tale where the legendary ‘steel-driving’ railroad man challenges a steam hammer, and wins, only to collapse and die shortly thereafter.  It appeared as if the entire media went a little bit gaga (no pun intended) with stories on this great milestone in cyber (and possibly human) history.

Is this analysis true?  As Steve Colbert might put it, there is some ‘truthiness’ in the statement.  Watson did, in fact, best his human competitors, but if we are to “speaking truthiness to power,” we should ensure that we fully understand the nature of the competition.

“Comments like the above missed the mark for a very simple reason,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst at GLM.  ”Watson did not prove adept at processing language in a manner similar to humans.  In fact, computers have dramatically failed at this task for four decades now.  What Watson has accomplished is a far cry from ‘natural language processing’.

Rather what Watson achieved was a very close approximation of appearing as if it had acquired an acuity at understanding of the English language. This, in itself, is an accomplishment to be acknowledged.  (But as in the old joke goes about a dog talking, it’s not that it was done well but rather that it was done at all.)  After all, Watson was designed from the ground up as a ‘question-answering machine,’ as IBM readily admits.  However this, in itself, is not quite accurate because Watson was specifically built as a ‘Jeopardy game-show answering machine’ “.

One problem is that few commentators understand what it means to actually program a computer at all, let alone the ‘machine coding’ which might be construed as the most basic unit of computer ‘thought’.  Even those who are familiar with today’s coding techniques are familiar with HTML or a variation of C++ or Linux, etc.  All of these ‘languages’ are as distant from machine coding technology as they are from understanding the mathematics of the Higgs boson and why it has been described as the ‘God particle’ at CERN.  Unfortunately, there will be  no friendly, Watson-like, avatar that will announce from the CERN lab that the God Particle has been identified, when and if ever.  We might also find out about that discovery when (as has been estimated by the CERN staff) the acceptable risk the 1 out of 50,000,000 chance hits and the whole enterprise results in the destruction of the entire planet though the creation of an, admittedly small, black hole.

The field of artificial intelligence has for decades been handicapped with the idea of emulating humans; whether their thinking, their speaking, their chess-playing ability or their ability to perambulate.  To make the advances we have seen recently, computer scientists had to literally re-think (and in many cases reverse) their earlier positions.

The key, as found in recent research, is not to emulate humans; rather the key is to define ‘machine logic’ or how would a machine do it, given its capabilities and limitations.  In other words do not attempt to  see like the human eye sees but attempt to see as a machine would see.  Rather than teach a machine everything there is to know about how a human gets around, the task becomes to teach a machine the few basic rules it needs to move forward, back up and to work around obstacles.  This is much different than a baby learning how to crawl which involves cognition, motor skills, sight, volition, and the sense of feel.

In the same way most would construe natural language processing would be the ability to understand basic sentences, concepts or instructions in a straight-forward manner.  Is this what Watson accomplished.  Consider the following:

Here’s what Watson needed to handle the ‘natural language’ of Jeopardy.

  • 90 IBM Power 750 servers
  • Each of the 90 IBM Power 750 servers is equipped with eight processors
  • A total 2,880 Central Processing Units (CPUs)
  • 1 network-attached storage (NAS) cluster
  • 21.6TB of data
  • 15 full-time technical professionals, as well any number of advisors and consultants
  • 5 years of development time
  • ’1,000s’ of computer algorithms to run simultaneously
  • 1 overlying algorithm to review the results of all the others
  • 1 power robotic finger

Incidentally, the effort required a minimum of $100,000,000 funding for personnel, some $25,000,000 in equipment, as well as all the costs associated with cooling, administration, transportation, and the like.

All of this reminds us of Gary Kasparov losing the famous chess match to IBM’s Deep Blue back in 1997.  IBM was allowed to modify its program between games.  In effect, this let IBM programmers compensate for any Deep Blue weaknesses Kasparov exposed during the game.  How, in any way, could this be considered a level playing field?  Once this was discovered, Kasparov requested a rematch, but IBM had already dismantled Deep Blue.

As for those comparisons with the legendary ‘iron-driving man’, we have one piece of advice:  John Henry, call your lawyer.

Note:  Each year GLM releases the Top High Tech Words Everyone Uses But Nobody Quite Understands.  This year’s edition will be released in conjunction with SXSWi on March 13, 2011.



Game: Can you name the Fashion Capitals of the World?


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Enter a city in the box below

You will have five minutes to complete the quiz.

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The Top Fashion Capitals of 2010 will be announced on July 19.

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Some Cities are already campaigning to move up in the rankings.



A Short History of Chess: The Tangles of Time


Chess yields us, when we need them most, companions in our loneliness.”

– —Mu’ Tazz

By Paul JJ Payack

As masterful a player as Emmanuel Lasker regarded chess as neither an art nor a science but rather a war in which the pieces served as troops and the players the generals. This stemmed from the notion that chess was invented as a war game and so, that is the manner in which it should executed. Undoubtedly reality is reflected in the idea that chess originated either as an aid or substitute for warfare.

Lasker maintained that to understand its creation all that is needed is an understanding of the method of classical warfare. Lasker explained that opposing armies would take their positions in nearly straight lines separated by a nearly level plain. The generals, in order to make their plans comprehensible to their commanders, would sketch the original position and later movements of their pawns and men. Lasker was fond of using the Battle of Cannae, 216 BC, as an illustration. At Cannae, the Carthaginians under the command of Hannibal defeated a Roman force nearly twice their number with superior strategy.

Lasker thought that it was entirely possible that Hannibal not only drew lines and placed stones on a board to explain his stratagems, but did so on what would one day be called a chequer-board. This was given the now familiar shape of a square divided into sixty-four smaller squares, colored black and white alternately. Though Lasker’s contention that chess was invented as a game of war is undoubtedly true, he seems to have postdated its conception by some eight centuries and misplaced it by several worlds.

After a millennium passed in the Buddhist era, various references occur to a game that seems the direct forbear of present-day chess. According to Sanskrit literature, apart from the central king and counselor, the pieces represented the quadrants of the ancient Indian army: war chariots, cavalry, elephants, and foot soldiers. The Upper Basin of the Ganges, or thereabouts, was the locale where this game first appeared. Since the area was a Buddhist stronghold, it is not unreasonable to assume that their monks had a hand in its inception. Since Buddhists oppose the killing of any form of life, it can be hypothesized that the game was invented as a bloodless substitute for war (by allowing men to engage in a combat of a higher sort).

In this version the infantrymen moved as pawns of all times and places, excepting the modern two-square debut. The cavalrymen were placed and manipulated in the same manner as the knight. The elephants’ movements were diagonal and limited to two squares, therefore they were inherently weaker than the bishops into which they were later transformed. The chariots were equal in every respect to the castles which through some ripple in history came to be called rooks. And the counselor, beside the king, moved diagonally also and only one square per move; as time passed its powers were increased to that of the bishop, thereby considerably enhancing the complexity of the game.

Chess spread rapidly (in historical terms) from the Subcontinent to the curiously diverse cultures further west, each leaving ineradicable traces of their time and culture. Persia bestowed the name to the game. Words, unlike mathematical formulae, both lose and gain in their sojourn through time and place. Aside from the usual etymological eddies, the development of the name flowed as follows. The Persian shah “king” came through the Arabic and the tangles of time to Europe as, among other variations, the Old French (e)sches, plural of (e)schek “check” derived from “shah.” From there it was but a minor simplification to the Saxon and Modern English word “chess.”

The culmination of this bloodless substitute for bloodletting is the murder of the enemy king, although the modern game ends euphemistically with the checkmate. This term, too, can be traced through a millennium to Persia. Shah mat “checkmate” means ‘the king (shah) is dead,’ where “mat” is related to the Latin stem mort- “death” found in “mortuary.”

Within a generation of the Hegira, the Arabs conquered Persia in the sacred name of Mohammed. As is usually the case, the two cultures became inextricably entwined and from that time forward it was the Islamic culture that became the primary vehicle of chess. As the game was carried from land to land it underwent a series of transmutations, some surprising and some not so surprising at all.

The Elephant was reduced to its ears. That is it was simplified (for reasons of convenience and religion) to a lump of wood, with a cut extracted from its center. An item of far more interest concerns the Arab rukh which predates the English rook for crow. It is still a matter of some controversy whether the rook was actually a chariot, a bird, or even a ship. It is highly probable that in differing cultures in differing centuries it was each.

In Arabia there seems little doubt that the chariot was replaced by a moderately prominent member the then-current mythology. In Arabian Nights the rukh was an enormous bird of gigantic girth which was inordinately wide of wing; a vast magnification of the eagle or condor. In most variations, the bird had the ability to carry an elephant, and sometimes several, in its talons. The thread of interest that lies about and through all variations of the rukh myth is that it was, whatever else, a deadly enemy of the elephant. (Later, with the aristocratization of chess, the elephant would be transformed into an ecclesiastic.)

Soon chess was a commonplace throughout the world of Islam, from Andalus in the West to the Indus in the East. The Moors carried chess to the Iberian Peninsula during the eighth century of the Christian era, and the Eastern Empire in Byzantium also learned of the game before the century had waned. From Iberia it spread to the north of Europe, while Russia seems to have acquired the game directly from India. (In Russian chess bears its original name, shakh-maty.)

During the High Middle Ages chess became a leisure time activity of the feudal lords, and the pieces began to resemble the aristocracy. (The rukh became, curiously enough, a castle.) A knowledge of ‘Nights and Days’ was considered a social grace for every genteel and parfait knight. Obviously, one reason for this was the connection between chess and war. Soon the powers of certain pieces were increased,making the game much more lively or, if you prefer, deadly.

That lump of wood with the split was not recognized in Europe as an elephant. This was understandably so, since to the folks of medieval Europe an elephant was just as much a mythological creature as the rukh, and possibly more so. To those who were unaware of its esoteric meaning, the elephant, also suggested a bishop’s mitre, an old man, a count or a fool. To this day in French the man is called Le Fou “the fool” and it is diagramed as a cap and bells.

The English, however, were the first to introduce chess diagrams to printing and since the piece remained a bishop there (and in Iceland) the bishop’s mitre would soon become the worldwide standard. However, Germans use this now universal symbol for their laufer “runner” while Russians use the mitre for their slon “the elephant.”

The evolution of the king’s counselor into the queen has been attributed to the similarity of the Arabic word fere “advisor,” to the French vierge “maiden” but probably can be more simply attributed to the make-up of the feudal court. A parallel between the historical liberation of women and the glorification of Mary by the Church could also have been factors in the metamorphosis.

And finally, a mention should be made of pawns; those so adequately named pieces which are even denied the status of chess ‘men’. They are, without exception in all cultures, represented by conveniently small and humble objects. For these there seems a universal need. History: read it and weep.

There are some 1.7 x 10 to the 29th methods of playing the first ten moves of this ancient and storied game. (The Greeks, clever as they were, didn’t even possess a symbol or number for any number larger than ten to the fourth, a myriad.) This being so, it becomes comprehensible why, while chess has ebbed and flowed through history, it has never been successful as a method of channeling the human mind to that combat of a higher sort.

To be sure, there have been wars of every possible description since its inception some thirteen hundred years ago, and when the number of possible permutations is envisioned even in this relatively simple game, it becomes obvious why there is more than adequate room for that phenomenon, war, in the universal scheme of things.

This nightmare, even when contained by a square of sixty-four smaller squares, has the potential to continue in a million billion varying guises for eons on end (and still there would remain variations untried).



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