News from the Field, January 1997
Marketing: Salty, Salty, He's Our Man...
Some free advice for the organizers of the 2002 Winter Games
By Bruce Mccall
The Utah Winter Olympic Games are still five years away, but to sell those millions of tickets, milk the tourism cash cow, and create a merchandising bonanza, you have to get out of the gate quickly. Alas, Salt Lake City's organizers seem to be stuck, without so much as a theme or a mascot. And their grand plan for tapping the creativity of the citizenry--a series of town
meetings to drum up community support--has thus far flopped, the first such gathering having drawn but a handful of people, mostly members of a local Boy Scout troop. So as proud Americans, we've made it our patriotic duty to help jump-start the effort. And hey, Salt Lake Organizing Committee, no charge!
Theme: Salt of the Earth
Salt lakes, salt beds, salt flats, more salt than you can shake a saltshaker at--that's Utah. So why not go with the flow and mount an all-out salt assault? Opening ceremonies will center around the mile-high Pillar of Salt, created by donations of a tablespoon of salt from every Utahan and topped by the world's largest salt crystal. Since Salt Lake's friendly folk are truly the
salt of the earth, they'll prove it by dressing up like Salty, as saltshakers. Sparkling white salt drifts will replace damp, messy snow on the ski slopes. Salty will be stamped on official souvenir salt licks, Epsom salts, smelling salts, bath salts, saltwater taffy, salted peanuts, salt pork, rock salt, and of course, sodium bicarbonate. The theme will even cover official
Olympic headquarters, housed in an abandoned salt mine. In brief, visitors will be peppered with reminders that--as the official song attests--"It's like I've gone to heaven and died / here in the land of sodium chloride!"
Theme: Bee-Utah-Ful Utah!
Mascot: Brigham the Busy Bee
Utah's a lot more than just Salt Lake City. It's...well, it's Bee-Utah-Ful Utah! And talk about creating a buzz: Its mascot is Brigham the Busy Bee, inspired by the beehive on Utah's state flag, symbolizing the diligence and communal effort that built this paradise in the desert. It'll all start at the opening ceremonies with the release of a million worker bees from the Hive, the
brand-new beehive-shaped figure-skating and hockey arena. The U.S. team, in bee costumes, will then form a human map of Utah in the gala Parade of Athletes. There'll be a Bee-Movie Festival and a special Bee-Bop musical theme. The ladies will be done up in beehive hairdos. And in honor of the host state, beekeeping will be a demonstration event. For Utahans it will be an
extra-special time, a chance to bring the spirit of the worker bee to vivid life. During the Games they'll be enjoying seven-day work weeks. No time off. No pay. Don't ask the natives for directions; forget idle chatter. "Sorry, pal, I'm busy as a bee!"
Theme: Make Mine Mormonism!
Mascot: Tommy 'n' Tammy Teetotal
It's a religion, it's a creed, it's a way of life--and it's Utah's very own. So why not wrap the Games in a package that says Mormon? The distinctive U.S. team uniform will be white shirts and blue serge suits. Crowd control will not be the usual matter of barrel-chested thugs in yellow windbreakers; rather, organizers will try to appeal to the unruly revelers' sense of decency,
with ubiquitous loudspeakers blasting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's stirring rendition of the catchy official song, "No" ("No smoking, no drinking, no sacrilegious thinking / No sloth, no lust, no greed / So lay down that demon rum and weed"). And last but certainly not least, with every Mormon worldwide tithing directly to the Organizing Committee, fund-raising will reach
unheard-of levels, allowing Joseph Smith's gospel to be spread like never before.
Copyright 1997, Outside magazine