Bank denies Olympics ambush marketing

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SYDNEY--Bristling over accusations of ambush marketing from the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, Don Argus, managing director of the National Australia Bank, said the committee is ``overreacting'' to the bank's launch of its elite sports marketing vehicle Team National.

John Moore, marketing manager of the Sydney organizing committee, claimed the bank is trying to ambush a Sydney 2000 Games official sponsor, the Westpac Banking Group, which paid $30 million for the rights.

Mr. Argus' comments came after the release of organizing committee-commissioned market research indicating that an increasing number of Australians ``did not know'' which bank was a naming rights sponsor for the Games. ``We spoke to SOCOG before we set up Team National and they made the rules clear to us,'' he said.

The market survey by Woolcott Research in November found 44% of respondents did not know Westpac was a sponsor. In October, 39% did not know, while in September the figure was 34%.

Helen Nugent, Westpac's director of strategy, said the results ``could be data problems . . . we're very comfortable with the trend from tracking data.''

Six of the elite sports men and women in the Team National lineup are Olympians. The campaign is being handled by George Patterson Bates.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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