Olympics & Cigars – A David Garofalo Editorial
I’m actually surprised at the lack of interest and talk about the Olympic Games this year in our cigar shops. The Americans are winning at the time of this article; there was some controversy with alleged mugging in Rio and apparent danger. There was plenty of LIVE television coverage but according to Gallup polls, Americans’ interest in watching the Olympic Games has hit a historic low. And while the interest was down, advertising was up and so were the costs. Advertisers dished out more than ever before to be part of this event.
Advertisers wanted to be the official products of the Olympics. Here is a fun fact; the longest running Official product of the Olympics is Coca-Cola. They’ve been the Official drink of the Olympics continuously since 1928. Today they have Coke Lounges and Coke Stations where athletes can relax with a Coca-Cola.
This year there was an Official Channel, Official Tires, and Official Credit Card. There is an Official Watch and an Official Camera and of course an Official Cell Phone. McDonalds was an official sponsor but there is no Official Cigar… but there used to be.
We can’t go back to when Coca-Cola first came in (1928) as a sponsor but pretty close. Here is Jesse Owens, in 1936, American sprinter Jesse Owens amazed the world by breaking Olympic records and winning four gold medals in Berlin, the headquarters of Hitler’s Nazi regime. Following the Olympics, he is shown here pushing White Owl Cigars. The 1st Olympian used as a spokesman to sell cigars… and possibly the last.
We found lots of Olympic cigar bands from 1960 from Henri Wintermans, more from Agio from 1964 and 1972, and the Official Cigar of the 1980 Olympics, House of Windsor, which I happen to have a couple of boxes of including the Official Pipe of the 1980 Olympics, Dr. Grabow.
Do you remember when the athletes who won the gold would light up a cigar? Oh ya, even the ladies would do it, but not this year. The advertisers would rather it be a Big Mac, a Coke and a smile.
And while we are mentioning Coca-Cola, here is a Coke you may have never seen before. It has been reported that Coca-Cola cigars were sold in the open market and given away at company banquets in the 1930’s. The company also ordered a limited number of boxes of SPRITE cigars to be passed around at events when the drink was first introduced in 1961.
The 2016 Olympics are over and you were not watching it, but you are reading this. Did you know they grow some awesome cigar tobacco in Brazil? Some great, dark tobaccos including Mata Fina, Corojo and Brazilian-Sumatra. Maybe they should have had a great Brazilian cigar as the Official cigar of the Olympics and we might have had some more interest. Just saying!