GM is among the first to buy into the mega-sponsorships being packaged and sold by the USOC's new marketing unit, Olympic Properties of the U.S., a joint venture with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. The pacts encompass rights to the U.S. Olympic team through the 2004 Olympics, U.S. marketing rights to the 2002 Winter Games in Utah and sponsorship rights to various new events created for non-Olympic years.
DEAL NEAR WITH A-B
OPUS also is said to be close to a deal with Anheuser-Busch Cos. valued at upwards of $100 million, and is in talks with several other potential sponsors.
GM initially wanted to buy category exclusivity, but is said to have balked at the hefty $100 million price tag. Instead, GM is likely to become the exclusive domestic automotive marketing partner of the Games, sharing the category with one or two other automotive marketers. BMW is said to be in discussions for the import auto slot.
Still, details of the deal have yet to be finalized and GM could be looking to expand its size and scope.
While NBC is said to have made joint presentations with OPUS executives, media isn't included in the sponsorships. Some media buyers said NBC has told them it has yet to begin selling its post-2000 Olympic inventory, but GM and one other undetermined OPUS sponsor have cut tentative deals with the network.
U.S. CAR EXCLUSIVITY ON NBC
NBC will broadcast three Olympic Games during the eight-year deal. At the very least, GM will own the domestic automotive category in those broadcasts. The minimum value of that portion is estimated at $210 million, based on NBC's pricing of its 1996 Summer Olympics broadcast and allowing for inflation.
GM was a U.S. sponsor of the '96 Games (see related story on opposite page) and the exclusive domestic auto advertiser on NBC's broadcast, a buy worth $50 million. BMW was also a sponsor and an advertiser.
GM's NBC deal also is believed to include units in Olympic-related programming during the years between Games.
NBC, currently searching for an ad agency to promote its ties to the Olympics, also owns the rights to the 2006 and 2008 Games.
In January, OPUS executives said they were ideally looking for 12 sponsors in 12 categories, but realistically were anticipating having to split up some categories because of pricing.
Telecommunications, for example, is likely to go to multiple companies, with the long-distance portion valued at $60 million.
OPUS wouldn't comment last week on pending deals; NBC sales executives couldn't be reached for comment by press time.
A GM spokesman confirmed OPUS had approached the carmaker about a long-term deal, but wouldn't confirm the length or value of the package pitched.
"We are measuring and assessing the value of being involved in past and future Olympics," said the spokesman. "We are looking at several different options. One of the options we're looking at is a long-term deal. But no decision has been made."
An Anheuser-Busch spokes-man said the company has no agreement with OPUS.
Contributing: Jean Halliday