Olympic spon­sors hit the home straight look­ing to main­tain ad­van­tage

Sportcal - - CONTENTS - by Si­mon Ward

With more than 50 com­pa­nies signed up to spon­sor this year’s Olympic Games in Lon­don and other firms al­lied with Olympic sports and in­di­vid­ual ath­letes, mar­keters have faced a chal­lenge to en­sure their brands stand out in a crowded mar­ket­place.

As ad­ver­tis­ing is not per­mit­ted at Olympic sports venues, cor­po­rates which have paid mil­lions of dol­lars to be of­fi­cial spon­sors of the games have had to be cre­ative in or­der to pub­li­cise their in­volve­ment and en­gage with sports fans and con­sumers in gen­eral.

The com­pa­nies un­der the most pres­sure to de­liver are the TOP spon­sors of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, which pay up to $100 mil­lion in each four-year cy­cle and are al­most obliged to roll out cam­paigns across var­i­ous me­dia that draw at­ten­tion to their as­so­ci­a­tion with the games as they seek a re­turn on their in­vest­ment.

Nonethe­less, the fact that high-pro­file sports spon­sors such as Coca-Cola, McDon­ald’s and Visa have had such a long as­so­ci­a­tion with the Olympic Games sug­gests that, de­spite the ever-present threat of am­bush mar­ket­ing, the part­ner­ship is a prof­itable one. For the multi­na­tion­als, the ben­e­fit of the games re­turn­ing to a first-world coun­try, in this case the UK, is that they are al­ready highly fa­mil­iar with the mar­ket and can ‘Olympi­cise’ ex­ist­ing cam­paigns.

The tra­di­tional rule of thumb for spend­ing on ac­ti­va­tion is three times the ini­tial rights fee but, in to­day’s mul­ti­me­dia world, com­pa­nies risk throw­ing good money af­ter bad if they do not, like a pro­fi­cient Olympic ath­lete, pur­sue the right strat­egy and peak at the right time.

Here, Sport­cal presents case stud­ies of four Lon­don 2012 part­ners, at dif­fer­ent lev­els of the spon­sor­ship hi­er­ar­chy, show­ing how they are lever­ag­ing their as­sets in the run-up to the games this sum­mer.

Coca-Cola, the US soft drinks gi­ant, is the longestrun­ning part­ner of the Olympic Games, hav­ing been as­so­ci­ated with the event since 1928, and was a char­ter mem­ber of the TOP pro­gramme when it launched in 1986.

How­ever, al­though it is one of the most recog­nised Olympic spon­sors, Coca-Cola is not com­pla­cent about its sta­tus and has sought to stay in tune with the times by launch­ing a vivid mar­ket­ing cam­paign en­ti­tled ‘Move to the Beat’ that mar­ries mu­sic and sport and is in­tended to ap­peal to a tar­get au­di­ence of young peo­ple.

This ties in with the Lon­don 2012 or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee’s em­pha­sis on youth, a ma­jor sell­ing point in the city’s suc­cess­ful bid for the Olympics, and the ef­forts by the IOC to ap­peal to a younger de­mo­graphic, at a time when the av­er­age age of tele­vi­sion view­ers of the games in de­vel­oped coun­tries has risen to 47.

Speak­ing at a Gold­man Sachs sym­po­sium in May, Joe Tripodi, Coca-Cola’s chief mar­ket­ing and com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, out­lined the com­pany’s ap­proach to this year’s Olympics, say­ing: “We had to make a choice and go young be­cause we also had a gift, and the gift for us was Lon­don – Lon­don as an iconic city, a city lead­ing so much in cul­ture. And what do young peo­ple think of when they think of Lon­don? They think of mu­sic, they think of dif­fer­ent kinds of mu­sic.”

Mu­sic pro­ducer Mark Ron­son and British ath­letes at the launch of the Coca-Cola ‘Move to the Beat’ cam­paign

The Lon­don 2012 Torch Re­lay

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