Do Olympic Sponsors get their “Bang for the Buck”?

I’ve enjoyed the “idea” of the Olympics being in London this year. But as  Brit living in the US, the usual complaints have been magnified this year.  (If you’ll indulge my whining, I’ll come back to the sponsorship issue at the end)

#1 Why does NBC think that there is only Swimming, Gymnastics and Sprinting at the Olympics? One of the joys of the Summer Games when I was a kid was the chance to see so many different and unusual events – canoe slalom, modern pentathlon, clay pigeon (skeet) shooting. But NBC relegates these to minor channels during the day, and they are barely mentioned in the morning ore evening round-ups. Such a shame!

#2 Wouldn’t it be nice to watch an event where US didn’t get a Gold or Silver medal? And to occasionally hear an anthem other than the Star Spangled Banner when a medal is awarded. OK, I know I’m living in the US, and should expect a heavy focus on US athletes – but it’s to the point of ridiculous. Even more surprising given that the US is the “Melting Pot” and is populated with people cheering for their home-town, non-US competitors. And we’re all watching NBC….. When will Bob Costas and Matt Lauer (and the suits behind them) wake up to this reality?

Aside from that, it’s been nice to see so much coverage and discussion of British culture, and I’m proud of the positive light that has been shone on my homeland. I’ve also enjoyed watching the cycle races around my old stomping grounds in the Surrey countryside.

So, back to my original comment on the “Marketing” of the Olympics. Have the Official sponsors really gotten their money’s worth for the London Games?(estimated at $100 Million over 4 years)? With the adoption of social media and YouTube excerpts to follow the Games, and increasingly clever  Guerrilla campaigns, does the general public really know who the Sponsors are? Or does the continued democratization of media make it tougher to justify. I’ll give two quick examples:

Subway. If you’re in the US, you’ve no doubt seen many ads over the last two weeks featuring “The Official Training Restaurant of Athletes Everywhere”. I bet if you stopped people in the street and asked them if Subway was a sponsor for the Olympics, most people would say “Yes”. But they’re not. And they just saved themselves $100M USD

Panasonic (my employer) is an official Worldwide Olympic Partner. In my role at Panasonic, I have no involvement in that part of the business, and so I have no official comment. But I am certainly interested. And so it pains me when many of the athletes I see are wearing large headphones emblazoned with the logo of one of Panasonic’s competitors. The cost to them? The price of a free set of headphones to each athlete!

There are no doubt many other advantages to Sponsorship and Partner deals to major corporations. But it seems that it will become tougher and tougher to protect the value of these properties, when the media world is no longer controlled by a handful of broadcasting companies.

Give me some other examples of “Unofficial” Olympic sponsors doing a good job of piggy-backing…


Published by Steve Cummins

Marketing leader; B2B marketing professional with global experience, specializing in technology products; Digital marketing enthusiast. Opinions are my own.

2 thoughts on “Do Olympic Sponsors get their “Bang for the Buck”?

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