But the IOC is in the enviable position of having offers from four other companies, including McDonald's Corp. and Motorola, to join those signing up early for The Olympic Program IV, covering the '98 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
The 10 companies reaching agreement with the IOC on TOP IV deals are Bausch & Lomb; Coca-Cola Co.; Eastman Kodak Co.; IBM Corp.; John Hancock Life Insurance Co.; Matsushita Electric Corp. for its Panasonic brand; Time Inc. for Sports Illustrated; United Parcel Service; Visa USA; and Xerox Corp.
TOP IV's price tag: $45 million, up from $40 million for TOP III, which encompassed the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and the '96 Games.
The swift action on TOP IV sponsorship sales shows how the IOC is increasingly taking a long-term view on marketing, precipitated by the IOC's recently signed deals with NBC to broadcast all Olympiads through 2008 except for the '98 Games, whose rights CBS owns.
The NBC deals are valued at $3.55 billion.
CHANGES FOR ISL
The IOC has redefined its relationship with longtime sports marketing agency ISL Marketing, Lucerne, Switzerland, which helped create TOP. The IOC will open an adjunct U.S. office to service TOP sponsors; ISL will handle sales and legal issues.
The U.S. office will be led by Chris Welton, currently senior VP-marketing operations at Atlanta Centennial Olympic Properties, the marketing arm of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. Also, Laurent Scharapan, senior VP at ISL, will serve the organization from Lausanne, Switzerland, assisting the national Olympic committees.
"ISL has served us well, but we felt it was time we took greater control of the TOP program," said Michael Payne, the IOC's director of marketing.
LOOKING TO 2 002
Additionally, IOC marketing executives have met with NBC, the U.S. Olympic Committee and organizers of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City to informally discuss selling U.S. sponsorships in several key categories.
Packages would include rights to use the Olympics rings logo and TV time for Games broadcasts, as well as other Olympic-related programming NBC intends to produce.
The willingness to consider such an arrangement reflects NBC's desire to become a marketing partner to the IOC and cultivate relationships with sponsors and advertisers over the course of the network's Olympic run.
Mr. Payne neither confirmed nor denied the renewals, but did say TOP IV sponsorship sales could be finalized by March.