Chip Wilson is no dumb dude.
The Kitsilano surfer and clothing tycoon founded Lululemon Athletica in 1998 and carved a lucrative niche with yoga-style sportswear targeted to twentysomething women.
The company -- listed on NASDAQ (lulu) and TSX (lll) -- is known for controversial, headline-catching marketing gimmicks. Remember when it offered free clothes to the first 30 customers who showed up at stores in their underwear in 2005? Remember when it claimed its clothes contained stress-relieving seaweed in 2007? (The New York Times debunked that one.)
On Dec. 9 its latest quarterly results showed revenue of $112.9 million (compared to $87 million for the same period a year earlier) and a profit of $20.9 million.
Just in time for Christmas -- and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics -- Lululemon launched its "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011" winter clothing line on Dec. 14. It includes toques, hooded sweatshirts and T-shirts in colours of Canada, United States, Sweden and Germany. No Olympic trademarks were harmed in the design or manufacture of the duds.
That cool sporting event in B.C. is not the B.C. Lions temporary move to their original field at Empire Stadium. It's the 2010 Winter Olympics and the organizing committee played right into Lululemon's clever strategy.
In what was supposed to be an attempt to protect its brand and that of official clothing retailer Hudson's Bay Company, a prepared statement was issued Dec. 15 by VANOC commercial rights manager Bill Cooper.
"We expected better sportsmanship from a local Canadian company than to produce a clothing line that attempts to profit from the Games but doesn't support the Games or the success of the Canadian Olympic team," Cooper said.
So, with just over one shopping week left until Christmas, the score is Lululemon 1 VANOC 0 because the world now knows where they can buy the "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011" products.
Wonder if anyone at VANOC owns Lululemon shares?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
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