XIX Winter Olympics: marketing hot spot

By Published on .

Most Popular

B-to-b advertisers are going for the gold at the XIX Winter Olympics, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into what most agree is the most important sports venue of the year.

"The environment it creates and the audience it delivers make it one of the pre-eminent events," said Jim Trautman, managing director of Bortz Media & Sports Group Inc., Denver, a sports marketing consultancy. "The b-to-b audience is typically hard to reach by TV. The Olympics and a few other sporting events [are among] the few opportunities to reach them."

One week before the Olympics began on Feb. 8, NBC had sold 98% of its inventory of TV ads during the games, which run through Feb. 24. NBC would not comment on the revenue generated, but the average cost of a 30-second spot is said to be roughly $600,000.

Online advertising is selling out, too. NBC had sold 95% of its online inventory five days before the games were scheduled to begin, with most deals in the high six-figure range.

"[Ad sales] have been incredibly strong, especially given the marketplace," said Kevin Sullivan, VP-communications for NBC Sports.

He would not break out b-to-b advertisers, but said, "The enormity of the audience is such that you hit everybody. Nothing else dominates like this."

Gaining global exposure

Advertisers believe that the size of the audience, the global exposure and the duration of the event combine to provide a powerful opportunity to reach their target audience.

Some of the biggest b-to-b advertisers on TV during the games are Electronic Data Systems, Xerox Corp., AT&T Corp.,, Bank of America Corp. and Qwest Communications.

Online advertisers with a significant presence include Qwest, Xerox, AT&T, and Office Depot.

Advertisers are nearly unanimous in their determination that the XIX Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City represent one of the greatest marketing opportunities of the year, so they’re allocating a large portion of their ad budgets to the event.

"The Olympics, over 17 days, are the perfect venue for us to tell our story," said LaWanda Burrell, VP-global advertising for EDS, which will run more than 50 30-second spots during the games. She would not disclose the ad budget.

EDS had advertised on the Super Bowl in 2000 and 2001 but declined to do so this year in favor of the Olympics. While the company had used Super Bowl advertising to build awareness of the EDS brand, it will focus on four specific services with four separate spots during the Olympics.

These services are hosting, security and privacy, applications and customer relationships. The new spots are a continuation of EDS’ "Solutions" campaign, developed by its agency of record, Fallon Worldwide. It is using the TV spots to drive traffic to its Web site.

Another b-to-b advertiser that chose the Olympics over the Super Bowl this year is Xerox Corp., which bought 57 TV spots and is an official online sponsor.

Xerox will run three different spots in a new campaign with the tagline "There’s a new way to look at it," developed by Young & Rubicam Advertising, New York. The campaign broke during the Phoenix Open golf tournament last month. The budget was undisclosed, although the company said the campaign is a multimillion-dollar effort.

"The Olympics are a great place to reach a broad audience very quickly," said Tina McDermott, manager of worldwide strategic advertising for Xerox. "It creates a great big stamp for us that has a positive effect over the rest of the year."

Xerox, a site sponsor for, is providing a printable TV schedule that’s available online, and is running an online promotion for its Work Center Pro 412 office equipment. In addition, Xerox is the official provider of document processing for the event. It is printing results booklets and providing more than 3,000 pieces of equipment during the games.

One surviving dot-com that’s advertising on both the Super Bowl and the Olympics is, which used Super Bowl advertising as a launching pad for its multi-tiered Olympics marketing effort.

Monster partnership

In partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee, has created, a career management Web site for U.S. Olympic athletes and hopefuls. The site, which features a resume builder, job search access and mentoring network, will be promoted in TV spots as a way to showcase as an online career center for job seekers and HR professionals. will run between 150 and 200 spots during the Olympics broadcasts, with a $10 million-plus media budget for the event. The spots are a continuation of its "Never Settle" campaign, developed by Arnold Worldwide.

Another b-to-b advertiser that’s using the event to showcase its technology is Qwest, the official local telecommunications service, PCS, public pay telephone and yellow-page directory provider for the games.

Qwest will use TV advertising to promote the Qwest Olympic Games network, a broadband network capable of transporting 388 trillion bits of data every second. It is the largest data network in Olympic Winter Games history, according to Qwest officials.

Online, it will advertise on, and to promote its business services and high-speed broadband network.

Office Depot, another big online advertiser on, is promoting its Olympic Challenge, offering $1 million to a contestant who accurately picks 25 gold medal winners.

In this article: