Besides the actual competitions, perhaps no other activity draws as much fan interest at the Olympic Games than the fascinating pastime of pin trading. The history of Olympic pins began at the 1896 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, where judges, athletes and other officials wore specially made badges denoting their status at the event. Today, virtually everyone in an Olympic host city can be seen to sport an official or commemorative pin of some kind.
Since 1988, the ‘ground zero’ of pin-acquisition has been Coca-Cola Official Olympic Pin Trading Centres, usually found at the most-popular gathering spots in the Olympic host city. For the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Coca-Cola was determined to continue the tradition as well as promote its green values by creating no less than three pin trading centres in the city.
The Coca-Cola Official Olympic Pin Trading Centre was part of the Olympic Expo and targeted the general public. The venue included glass showcases for key images, pins, souvenirs and other Olympic memorabilia dating from 1928 to 2006. Pin collectors with years of experience were invited to share their stories with the curious crowds.
Located at Beijing Chaoyang Park, the second pin trading centre was more consumer-oriented, featuring bright wall display shelving and tables in brilliant Coca-Cola red. It served as a carnival for pin fans, who could view a collection of rare pins from past Olympics, and exchange pins with collectors from all over the world. Visitors were also given a chance to win pins autographed by past Chinese Olympic medal winners.
The third pin trading centre was located in the Olympic Village itself, and was designed to appeal to athletes and sports officials. Its appearance was accordingly the most subdued and sophisticated of the three, incorporating wood and natural materials, and using red mainly as an accent rather than a dominant colour.