Bowie cashes in on Olympic Heroes

David Bowie is proving that Beijing 2008 is a marketing exercise as much a sporting festival...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

If we’d been asked in advance to name the likely big winners at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, David Bowie wouldn’t have been on the list. But apparently the rock legend is set for a serious windfall from the Games thanks to Heroes, the song he co-wrote with Brian Eno. The 1977 classic has been licensed to Nike China for their television marketing during Olympic fortnight – and with 500m people due to watch the ads across South-East Asia, it’s likely to end up being a very lucrative deal indeed…

Nike has apparently made the song the centrepiece of its marketing campaign for the Games. It’s the theme song for a sports documentary called DARE, and provides the soundtrack for the 30-second and 60-second sports montages featured in the US sportswear company’s TV advertising. All of which has been running extensively on China Central Television, and beamed by satellite to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. To squeeze even more juice out of the deal, Bowie’s AIM-listed licensing agency MCS has also allowed the track to be used in promotional DVDs and public performances.

This could prove to be more than a short-term gain for Bowie (and Eno, for that matter). He might end up with a few new fans in the enormous Asian market – which he can then tap for music sales, merchandising and the inevitable concert tour. As MCS Asia MD Tony HoTung says: ‘The extensive reach of the Nike campaign will increase popularity and demand for Bowie and Eno’s music from a burgeoning and rapidly expanding Asian fan base.’

Naturally we’re delighted for Bowie and Eno (because of course, they really need a few extra quid in the bank), but the Olympic purist in us can’t help but find this all a bit unseemly. These days the organisers of the Games seem far more excited about the bottom line, rather than the finish line; the advertising pitch, rather than the sports pitch; and their corporate partnerships, rather than their doubles partnerships.

And given that London has already signed up its major sponsors for 2012, earlier than any other host city in history, we can’t imagine we’re going to be any better next time round. Bah...

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Bowie cashes in on Olympic Heroes

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