VIEWPOINT;THE GAMES

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With the summer Olympics opening this coming weekend, we salute the contestants from the marketing world. Though none will mount the winners' stand to claim a medal, the competition among them for public notice during the Olympics spectacle will be strenuous-and picking winners will be hard to do.

More than 40 are official Summer Olympics sponsors, and still other potent marketers are in the competition as sponsors of teams or Olympic-related events. All face the challenge of an Olympic Games staged in the U.S.: a superabundance of marketer tie-ins that threaten the ability of any one campaign to stand out.

Who will generate real consumer impact in this melee? So far, we give the early lead to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, which has successfully made Coke and the Olympics almost synonymous. Also with a chance to win medals for impact: McDonald's "USA wins you win" consumer promotion; Frito-Lay's new flight of "Pretzel Boy" TV ads (with sitcom star Jason Alexander); Reebok's commercials with Dallas Cowboy Emmett Smith. There are other contenders, to be sure. So cheer on the athletes, but also enjoy this Olympics of marketing.

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