THE TRINIDAD and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) made the first public display of its Rio 2016 Olympic t-shirts at Olympic House in Port-of-Spain yesterday, even as it announced plans to remain relevant in the digital age.

The t-shirts, black with gold inscription, are priced at $149 and are expected to go on sale by December 11.

All proceeds after production and related costs will go directly to the TTO C’s “Ten Olympic Gold Medals or more by the Year 2024” athlete preparation fund.

In explaining the marketing strategy for the shirts and other related merchandise that will follow, TTO C president Brian Lewis linked it all to a strategy that is intended to keep the organisation in tune with the ever- changing digital environment.

“We have had to make very courageous decisions in terms of how we move forward,” Lewis said. “One of these decisions is not only to become more market-oriented and market-focused, but to embrace and engage what we call digital transformation.

“The TTO C is now living in social and digital media. In that regard, we have recently agreed a partnership with Tribal Caribbean to be our social and digital partner.” Tribal Caribbean, a digital advertising agency, is partnering with the TTO C online marketing of the TT / Rio apparel.

“Our primary responsibility has to do with the sourcing of the apparel,” Dave Lutchman, Tribal Caribbean’s general manager told Newsday, “Which we will then pursue branding for, in line with the TTO C’s guidelines.” Lewis made it very clear that he saw such an approach as the only way to go.

“The phase that we are going through — what we call the transformation of our marketing plan — is fundamental to the sustainable future of the TTO C.” He admitted that the TTO C was heading into “unchartered waters.” “It must go there because in an environment where the global economy is challenged and the local economy is no doubt challenged, the TTO C must be creative and innovative.” Lewis emphasised need for the TTO C to remain independent.

“While we do approach the government of TT for support when the athletes travel to go to games, outside of that, the Olympic Committee is independent and privately-funded,” he said. “We get funding from sponsors, Olympic Solidarity, the Pan American Sport Organisation and the IOC.” The t-shirts and all other related merchandise will be sold at Fan Club outlets located at Movietowne, Trincity Mall, Gulf City and at Aboutique Mall.

Lewis added that the project and others to come would not be limited to TT .

“The goal is to become a global brand.

We believe that the TTO C and its brand, its athletes, its history and tradition should not and cannot and must not be limited by the fact that we’re an island surrounded by water.”

By ASHFORD JACKMAN Thursday, December 3 2015