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Peter Williams: NZOC didn't cover itself in glory

opinion

By Peter Williams

Published: 2:20PM Monday August 20, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

So who knew ANZ was an insurance company?

The New Zealand Olympic Committee must have - and that's why they accepted a sponsorship from the biggest bank in Australia and New Zealand to have ANZ as "their official insurance partner".

The problem is that ASB had already signed a deal two years ago to be the "exclusive banking partner" of the NZOC and are, quite understandably, somewhat annoyed, to say the least, about the NZOC taking on sponsorship from ANZ only a few months out from the London games.

Frankly, it's beyond belief that anyone at the executive or board level of the NZOC would allow any deal from ANZ to go through when there was already an arrangement in place with ASB. The Olympic movement, and every other sports body for that matter, always ensure their sponsors are limited to one supplier per category.

If the NZOC believed the ANZ brand would not be associated with banking, then they really do need some serious examination.

It's like Coca-Cola coming into a Pepsi sponsored music festival as the "official water supplier".

This was an extraordinarily brilliant piece of ambush marketing on the part of ANZ, and what's more it was legal.

There were huge billboards reminding us of ANZ's involvement with the New Zealand Olympic team in many prominent places around the country. One hit me in the face very time I drove out of the TVNZ garage in central Auckland.

It never occurred to me that it was an insurance sponsorship, and I guess that was the point.

It's pretty obvious that ASB has been outsmarted too and didn't leverage their involvement with the Olympic team very well. I'm an ASB customer and noticed the Olympic rings on the home page when I logged in, but beyond that I can't remember any ASB Olympic branding.

Maybe they saw the ANZ billboard campaign early on, waved the white flag and told their lawyers to get the money back from the NZOC.

This saga completes a shambolic three weeks at the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

For me it started with the opening ceremony.

So much had been made of the stylish dress uniforms for the team, inspired by the traditional black blazers with the white piping worn by New Zealand athletes at the 1948 games in London.

Yet when we saw our team walk in the opening ceremony, the athletes were in some pretty average casual garb dominated by a way-too-large silver fern.

So where was that smart team dress uniform ever worn? For the team photo maybe.

Then there was the sorry Valerie Adams saga.

No single room for our pre-eminent athlete, a uniform that didn't fit - and then not entering her in the event.

The NZOC, through its Chef de Mission Dave Currie and its Secretary-General Kereyn Smith, then lay the blame on Athletics New Zealand for this sorry series of cock-ups.

Just how salaried officials of the NZOC, whose primary job is to ensure the assembly, transport and accommodation of New Zealand athletes at the Olympic Games, can blame others for such basic and horrendous mistakes beggars belief.

The NZOC wins two gold medals at these games - one for buck passing, one for really annoying a sponsor.

They're not prizes to be proud of.

Who's going to be accountable?

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