Rio 2016 Fights Counterfeiters by Making Its Own Knockoffs
Counterfeit merchandise has become a big concern at sporting events, like the Super Bowl and MLB All-Star Game. The Olympic Games, arguably the largest sporting event in the world, is combating possible counterfeit efforts by crewing a line of products that are, essentially, knockoffs of the official merchandise.
Bloomberg reported that official T-shirts for sale at the Games' megastore cost $29, and nearly identical T-shirts, albeit with thinner fabric, cost about $12.55 are available in Rio de Janeiro's downtown market.
The reason for these lower-cost versions of the official merchandise is because many Brazilians aren't able to afford Olympics souvenirs. The high-end apparel at the store on Copacabana Beach is aimed at the more well-to-do tourists, but locals can still afford to celebrate the first Olympics in their home country (and continent).
"The best way to combat piracy is by using product," Sylmara Multini, head of licensing for the 2016 Olympics, told Bloomberg. "If you have a 40 real [$12.55] T-shirt, we feel most of the population will be able to engage with our product."
This Olympics merchandise is available in more than 100 stores across the country, and local businesses see it as an opportunity for growth. One Brazilian retailer told Bloomberg that he anticipates Olympic-related sales adding 35 percent to his bottom line this year.
Another man from Manaus, Brazil, said he visited the Olympic megastore on the beach, but didn't want to shell out the money for anything. But he was happy to purchase seven official T-shirts for a lower cost at one of the other locations.
Since the International Olympic Committee named Rio de Janeiro as the host city, the Brazilian real has fallen 46 percent against the U.S. dollar. So, while the two-tier merchandise system certainly helps out Brazilian fans, it's clear that tourists are the primary focus of Olympic-branded merchandise.
"The crisis started in Brazil and then the dollar started to go up," Multini added. "If Brazilians were going to buy two T-shirts, now they'll buy one. If the foreigners were going to buy two, now they'll buy four. We're one T-shirt up."