The Olympics

Ralph Lauren Comes Back to TV With Olympic Spot

Company Says Medium Has Become 'Priority For Us in a Big Way'

By Published on .

Advertising Age Player

Since 2008, clothing retailer Ralph Lauren has been an Olympics sponsor and is the official outfitter of Team USA for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics. But it's never run a TV spot on the Olympics -- until now.

In fact, the commercial is the first TV ad for Ralph Lauren's apparel business in at least eight years, according to David Lauren exec VP-advertising, marketing and communications for the $4.7 billion retailer (the brand has advertised its fragrance business on TV before.) The 30-second anthem spot touts patriotism and features six athletes, including swimmer Ryan Lochte, beach volleyball player April Ross and freestyle wrestler Jordan Burroughs, as they push themselves to prepare for the competition.

"Year after year, we always walk away feeling this incredible response from the games—whether it's customers shopping products or talking about our brands," said Mr. Lauren. "It's an invaluable partnership." He noted the company typically sees a big sales boost during the competition. The brand currently offers a customization program where shoppers can put their own names on the back of shirts.

Produced in-house, the commercial will air from Aug. 6 through 16.

"We're looking for new ways to connect us to spirited Americans," he said. "TV has become a priority for us in a big way because we want to really explore and push that reach."

The 49-year-old clothing company is also creating exclusive content via social media. Ralph Lauren will have staffers on the ground in Brazil posting interviews with athletes and other information via the brand's social channels.

Ralph Lauren spent $65.4 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media. In recent years, like many apparel brands, the company has struggled with sluggish sales at department stores including Macy's. Last fall, it tapped Stefan Larsson, credited with reviving Old Navy, as chief executive. For the most recent quarter, total revenue fell 1% to $1.9 billion; net income plummeted 67% to $41 million.

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