Host cities get 60% of revenue from broadcasting rights alone. In Lillehammer, Norway, that totaled $355 million. Adding to the allure are sponsorships, licensed merchandise, commemorative coins and ticket sales.
This week Ostersund, Sweden; Quebec City; Salt Lake City; and Sion, Switzerland, are making a dash for Budapest, where on June 16 the International Olympic Committee will announce the 2002 Winter Games site.
Officially, the decision will be made based on each city's detailed bid, each consisting of thousands of pages. In practice that translates into: get the attention of the 96 voting IOC members.
When it comes to getting attention, the campaign to beat seems to be Salt Lake City's. Some 400 Salt Lake Citians will be on hand in Budapest for the announcement.
Utah is spending some $7 million to drum up hometown support. To give residents a "sneak preview" of the medal ceremonies locale, singer John Denver gave a March concert in the park proposed for the event.
An outdoor board campaign designed pro bono by the EvansGroup simply reads: "This bid's for you," a play on the Anheuser-Busch tagline for Budweiser.
Notably missing are any TV ads. But in March, three, light-hearted 30-second radio spots aired. One featured a group of confused kids quizzing their equally befuddled grandfather, "Grandpa, what's a luge?"
"Everything was getting so damned serious," said Mike Corologos, on loan from Evans to aid the Salt Lake City Bid Committee. "We wanted to have a little fun."
Quebec City required a harder sell to get citizens' support.
Residents of Quebec province are still paying for the 1976 Montreal Games. About a billion dollars was poured into the stadium alone, designed to have a retractable roof which never worked.
Although Quebec's promotional budget for luring the Olympics is more than any of the other four cities at $8.8 million, there's been little advertising.
Instead, the city conducted a public awareness campaign: It held informational hearings; talked to schoolchildren about the benefit of sports participation; and garnered a few testimonials from the country's biggest athletes. The effort was handled by Aladdin, a consortium of Quebec's main ad agencies.
The rest of the money was spent on making personal contacts with IOC members during their visits to Quebec and sending 40 delegates to Budapest.
Quebec's presentation to the IOC bid committee-using the understated theme, "Quebec, an Olympic destination"-played on the ambiance of the city.
"What people find in Quebec is the `joie de vivre,' the European atmosphere in old Quebec," said Rene Paquette, president, Quebec 2002 Winter Games Corp.
Meanwhile, Sion says it was "Born for the Games"-a simple slogan to fit the not-so-simple bill of being translatable into Switzerland's four languages.
Sion's response to the North American clamor: "If you want [the Games] so much, perhaps you aren't ready," said Philip Rollman, managing director of Heimann D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Geneva, the agency handling Sion's bid.
That's a succinct summary of Sion and Ostersund's attitudes. Both are asking the world to simply consider their natural preparedness-i.e., their environs and sports history. Reflective of that and relative to the size of their countries, Switzerland's and Sweden's Olympic bid marketing budgets are much smaller than those of the U.S. or Quebec.
"Switzerland is ready," said Mr. Rollman, echoing the city's "Born for the Games" theme.
DMB&B won't reveal the exact size of its budget, saying only that Switzerland's Olympic Committee is an average-size client and that the campaign has a media space value of about $2 million.
In addition to the usual public relations campaign aimed at the IOC, DMB&B has built a multimedia campaign of TV, cinema spots and outdoor boards around a phone number to call and say "Yes" to hosting the Games.
As for Ostersund, the theme for its $2 million marketing campaign is "Definitely Ostersund," with six subtitles: "Ostersund is definitely .........sport, festival, environment, experienced, future and compact."
Burson-Marsteller, Oslo, acted as consultants on the project, because of the expertise of two of its executives who worked on the Lillehammer bid.
Film Point, Gothenberg, worked on scripts for brochures and lyrics for audiovisual presentations. And Lundbergs Reklam, Ostersund, helped with graphic design and newsletter production.
Jon Kalina and Jeff Jensen contributed to this story.