Olympic rewards?

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Sponsorship of the Olympic movement or of a specific Games is full of pitfalls and regulation. In the lead up to a Games, even certain words and phrases are no-no’s for businesses. Rights holders pay handsomely for the privilege of association and don’t want this compromised. Top tier sponsors pay upwards of £80m to associate themselves with a  four-year period encompassing one summer and one winter Games.

They have the rights to use the Olympic rings, words and symbols for the duration of their term on a worldwide level. These rights tend to be held by either household brand names that have been linked to the Olympic movement for a number of years, like Visa, Coca-Cola and McDonalds, all of them very skilled in activating their sponsorship and very aware of competitors’ ambush marketing.

There are newer partners at this level who have recently become associated with the Olympic family, like Acer and P&G. Relative novices at this game, it will be interesting to see how they activate their affiliation.

Within this tier, sponsors get exclusive category areas, Coca-Cola for instance has soft drinks, Panasonic has televisions and Samsung has mobile devices. The advent of technology is increasingly blurring these distinctions as many mobile devices can double as televisions, for example. Even in the upper echelons there is suspicion, claim and counter-claim as global brands fight for their piece of the Olympic pie.

At the next level are the specific Games sponsors. In London’s case, this includes BMW, BP, EDF Energy and BA, who have paid for the rights to associate themselves with the Games within the UK only. These brands are not allowed to highlight their Olympic associations beyond the UK borders for fear of infringing the rights of top tier sponsors. Once again, there is a grey area. BA, if they so wish, can paint the London 2012 logo on their planes, so theoretically could be seen anywhere in the world.

The final level is the national sponsors; each of the competing nations’ Olympic committees has a number of sponsors that support them within their own countries and have the ability to highlight their association with said committee. For instance the Canadian Olympic Committee is sponsored by Petro Canada, Bell and RBC among others, the French have Orange, EDF Energy and Adidas as their sponsors.

So where are the rewards for us? It is often said the event sector will benefit most from the legacy next year.

For the duration of the Games, not only will the eyes of the world be on London, but key decision-makers and chief executives from the world’s leading brands and organisations will be being hosted or hosting. This provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our sector to get things spot on, to ‘wow’ these people that our infrastructure, our service, innovation and our facilities are the best in the world and that when they have their next big conference or event, the first place they think of is Britain.

Any comments? Email sarah@mashmedia.net

Conference & Meetings World is published for the international conference and meetings industry. It tackles the issues facing organisers of international events. The editorial is independent, fresh and news driven, with a global reach.

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