by Darcy Cosper


So you want to show your Olympic spirit. Well, kids, you're in luck, because with a little disposable income you can buy some. And we all know there's no better way to express yourself than through your purchasing power and the objects you acquire.

If you want something more lasting than that patriotic Budweiser hangover, or you don't feel "up close and personal" enough with those Olympic athletes even though you use Playtex tampons and L'Eggs pantyhose, never fear. There are nearly one hundred members of the U.S. Olympic Licensing Team—companies who paid the Olympic Committee anywhere from fifty-five thousand to twenty-two million dollars (not to mention 10-20% royalty fees) for the privilege of turning out an unprecedented volume of official Olympic Kitsch.

Of course, you can still get the usual stained-glass wall plaques, Window Waggers, multi-vitamins, novelty silk boxer shorts, and refrigerator magnets from companies like Ace Novelty. But there is also an abundance of products available for more discerning, brand-conscious consumers. Perhaps you fancy an official Olympic Motorola cellular phone, or some Olympic Fieldcrest Cannon bath towels? Accessorize your summer barbecue with some nifty ceramic relief steins from Anheuser-Busch, and offer your guests pretzels in the shape of the Olympic torch, the Olympic rings, and the letters U,S, and A. Decorate the office with Olympic fine-art prints from Successories, Inc., sporting inspirational messages and motivational quotes. Join Coca-Cola's Official Pin Society. Brighten up your wardrobe with Olympic-brand apparel from JC Penny.

Charm that special lady in your life with an Olympic needlepoint kit and cosmetics and fragrances from Avon; a Coach leather water-bottle tote; a fashionable black-and-silver Speedo bathing suit; or a lovely cedar hope chest. For the kids, pick up an Olympic Hot Wheels car, diaper covers, light-up shoelaces, or a lovable Cabbage Patch OlympiKid doll.

And remember, as International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch says, "Every act of support for the Olympic Movement promotes peace, friendship, and solidarity throughout the world." So get out there and buy a piece of the dream—and put it on your Visa card. It's everywhere you want to be suckered.   </end>


Next Week: Selling the dream; the emotional structure of Olympic advertisements.

DARCY COSPER is a freelance writer and researcher. She lives in Manhattan.
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