London 2012 Watch: IOC Reviews, LOCOG Defends Olympic Sponsor Strategy

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The way the world communicates with one another is ever-evolving as new technologies continue to appear and social media continues to introduce new avenues of expression. With that, brands are always finding new ways to touch their customers and all of the classic branding rules are being tossed out the window.

Olympic sponsorship has long been a way for major brands to reach consumers every few years, but international Olympic executives are looking to possibly shift how the model works in order to embrace this new world.

The sponsorship model now in place brings in $1 billion, according to the Financial Times, but the IOC is planning to “take a step back” and re-assess the sponsorship strategy going forward.[more]

“The given wisdom that has stood us well for the last 25 years will be questioned,” said Timo Lumme, the IOC’s director of marketing and television, the FT reports. “We will do a very deep dive in terms of a grassroots review of the program.” As it is now, the IOC isn’t negotiating any more deals past 2020 and is hoping to have the new strategy in place before the 2016 Games in Rio.

There are currently 11 global sponsors — Acer, Atos, Coca-Cola, Dow, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, P&G, Panasonic, Samsung, Visa — that shell out around $100 million to be part of the team for four years. They all get to take the iconic Olympic rings and use it to help market their own products.

According to the FT, “the IOC is reconsidering everything from its product categories (which include non-alcoholic drinks and audio and visual equipment) to the program’s stakeholder structure and whether it should increase its pricing” as well as how it will handle digital television and smartphones.

“[The Olympic brand] needs to be modernized and made relevant to a new audience,” said Tim Crow, CEO of sports marketing agency Synergy, to the FT. “If you are a sponsor, you’d be looking to the rights owner to make the Olympic brand more relevant to today’s audience, a younger audience, and tomorrow’s consumers.”

As for the London 2012 Olympic organizers, a stern warning is being issued to any and all would-be “ambush marketers” — piggybacking on Olympics fever in marketing efforts by non-official sponsors. The Associated Press cites the example of a small cafe near the London Games site that mysteriously rebranded from the “Olympic” Cafe to the “Lympic.” (The manager declined to tell AP what happened.)

LOCOG officials commented to AP, “Without our sponsors, the games simply wouldn’t happen. They provide funding, products, services and expertise to help us stage the games and with that have purchased exclusivity in their sector.”

In addition to the global Olympics sponsors noted above, London 2012 sponsors include, at the partner level, Adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF, Lloyds TSB; and at the supporter level, Adecco, ArcelorMittal, Cadbury, Cisco, Deloitte, Thomas Cook, and UPS.

[Image via Ints Vikmanis / Shutterstock.com]

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