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The Arnault Olympics

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LVMH executives recognize the tremendous opportunity to increase awareness among the 15 million people expected to visit Paris for the Games—not to mention the many millions who watch from home. Photo: Julien de Rosa/AFP/Getty Images
Lauren Sherman
April 4, 2024

If Angelenos are optimistic, and New Yorkers are ambitious, Parisians are… defeated. Just consider their attitude toward the supposedly mirth-inducing, patriotism-inspiring, upcoming Summer Olympic Games in their hometown. The traffic is already terrible, they say. Most locals, unsurprisingly, plan to evacuate the city prior to the July 26 Opening Ceremony—getting as far away as possible from the unironic-fanny-pack-wearing tourists and the inevitable canicule. August is the dead month no matter, of course, because Europeans take endless vacations—an heirloom of their civility or an emblem of their complacency, depending on who’s asking. Regardless, as a former French colleague used to say, “Nobody works.” So the Paris Olympics, while draped in national pageantry, will likely represent a Disneyfied vision of Paris.

And yet, Paris is a company town, and fashion will be at the center of these Games, which makes it a fine moment to present the culture of the industry to onlookers who feign disinterest. Of course, only one company stands to truly benefit from that opportunity at scale, and that’s LVMH, currently the largest company in Europe by market capitalization. (It remains neck and neck with Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic.) Last summer, the group announced their deal as the lead sponsor of the Games, valued at $160 million by The Wall Street Journal. The amount of money LVMH will invest in marketing, advertising, and promotion around the two-week-long event will be far greater, of course, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the actual spend. In some departments, marketers were required to devote a third of their annual budget to efforts around the Olympics, and not just at a group level—individual brands have been asked to chip in tens of millions here and there. The catch is that their budgets were not, in most cases, increased overall.