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Sponsorship Drives Olympic Movement


Without corporate sponsorships, the Olympic Movement as we know it today could not exist. It takes billions of dollars to finance the infrastructure and provide for everything needed to present secure and successful Games. As VOA's Steve Schy reports from Turin, marketing partners are now an intrinsic part of the Olympic family.

No lesser authority than Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, has said that the Games could not happen without the support of the business community.

The sale of broadcast rights brought the most money into Olympic coffers between 2001 and 2004, providing $2.3 billion, or 53 percent of Olympic revenue. Next were corporate sponsorships, providing 34 percent, or $1.46 billion. Ticketing brought in another $441 million (11 percent) and the remaining $87 million (2 percent) came from licensing Olympic products.

Commanding the focus of the world and an estimated television audience of two billion, the Olympics may be the most effective international corporate marketing opportunity anywhere. Matthias Hanssen, General Electric's director of global marketing for the Olympics, told VOA he values his company's sponsorship.

"It is very much worth it. For us, it is a great business opportunity. The Olympics is the biggest sports event in the world," he said.

The IOC has 11 Olympic partners at the Turin Games, including GE and other worldwide brands, such as South Korean electronics giant Samsung, as well as Coca-Cola, Kodak and Visa. These companies have purchased exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the Olympics in their product category. In return, they pay substantial amounts of money, as well as providing their products, services and expertise at the Games.

Louis Kim, a corporate marketing director for Samsung, says sponsoring the Olympics helps his company build its image with consumers.

"We would like to tell our story to people about Samsung's commitment to the Olympic Games and Olympic movement," Kim said. "We might not be able to get the return right overnight, but we believe this has to be Samsung's long-term commitment. Over time, we would like to build the consumer's affinity over our brand."

Hilton Hotels is a national sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee. Jeffrey Diskin, Hilton's senior vice president of brand management, cannot say with certainty that sponsorship sways travelers to stay at Hilton Hotels instead of their competitors. But he told VOA Sports that he thinks sponsorship strengthens consumers' perception of the Hilton brand, and has another intent.

"One of the things you look for out of this is to really make a difference. I mean, we really want to support out athletes," Diskin said. "If we can help support them on their quests, that is a great thing that makes us feel proud."

So, next time you see commercials from Olympic sponsors, remember the role they play in making it possible for the athletes to shine. Sponsors help ensure the continuing viability of the Games.