The Vancouver Winter Olympic Games are at their height, but figure skating star Kim Yu-na is appearing in fewer advertisements than before the competition began because the International Olympic Committee prohibits commercial activities during the games. "As the Olympics puts the emphasis on the amateur spirit, with a view to preventing all attempts to link the Olympics with commercial interests, athletes are prohibited from commercial activities from nine days before the opening of the games to three days after," a Korean Olympic Committee official said.
Not all advertising is barred. Official sponsors are allowed to advertise featuring Olympic athletes. That is why Kim Yu-na is still seen in the cell phone and refrigerator advertisements of Samsung Electronics, an IOC sponsor. Hyundai Motor and Nike, hiring Kim as an advertising model, have signed separate sponsorship contracts with the KOC, and Homeplus also has registered as a sponsor. A sponsorship contract costs hundreds of millions of won.
But Maeil Dairies, and LG Household and Healthcare did not ink a sponsorship deal. Winter is the low season for the milk industry, Maeil Dairies said, and since it is not launching new products or promotions during the Olympics, it does not feel the need to pay extra only to use advertisements in which Kim appears. LG Household and Healthcare, which features Kim in advertisements for a softening agent and cosmetics, are in a similar position, saying that those products are not boosted by the games.
But experts predict that competition to hire Kim as a model will get even fiercer if she wins a gold medal at the Olympics.