The Lululemon clothing company is on the defensive after Olympic organizers slammed its winter clothing line.
The company has just rolled out a line with the tagline, "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011 Edition." The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) is not laughing.
"We expected better sportsmanship from a local Canadian company than to produce a clothing line that attempts to profit from the Games but doesn't support the Games or the success of the Canadian Olympic team," Bill Cooper, VANOC's Director of Commercial Rights Management, said in a prepared statement.
"Canadians have already demonstrated they understand that 'buying real' merchandise at the Hudson's Bay Company and from numerous Canadian licensees across the country is the best way they can show their support for Canadian athletes.
"Funds generated from the sale of officially licensed merchandise - including the hugely popular red mittens - goes directly towards the success of the Canadian Olympic Team and the successful staging of the Games."
A communications coordinator with Lululemon contacted Pique and said the "Cool Sporting Event" title is only a tagline and not the official name of the new clothing line. The actual name of the clothing line is "Cheer Gear."
VANOC's statement comes just as Lululemon in Whistler is about to host a re-opening to commemorate the store's move into a bigger space. The Whistler Lululemon store will be hosting a re-opening party Saturday in the space at the end of the Crystal Lodge formerly occupied by Nike. The reopening is advertised as "THE party you don't want to miss!"
The new clothing line includes hoodies, toques and T-shirts representing countries such as Canada, Germany, Sweden and the United States.
VANOC has gone to great lengths to protect the marketing opportunities of official Games sponsors in the lead up to the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics. Only official sponsors can market themselves under the Olympic banner.
The charity organization Right to Play, which partners with various organizations to bring recreational opportunities to war- and poverty-stricken countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America, was born out of the Olympic movement but is not allowed to have a presence at any athletes villages. Right to Play has an automotive sponsor that competes with VANOC's automotive sponsor, General Motors.
The charity has since taken up a partnership with MasterCard and the Roots clothing company, launching a "Canada Collection" that is on prominent display in store windows, including the Whistler location.