B-to-b and the Olympic Games a good match

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The Olympic sponsorship arena is about to heat up as companies prepare for the upcoming 2012 London Games. The usual suspects will be there—Coke, McDonald's, etc.—but the hot new trend in Olympic sponsorship may surprise you. B-to-b companies are rapidly signing up, showing they have just as much interest in finding unique ways to differentiate themselves for their customers, prospects and employees. Let's look at why this trend has emerged. An Olympic sponsorship is like a ticket to the prom—it only represents one of the expenses involved in activation (corsage, dinner, limo are all extra). For b-to-b companies, this is an advantage. The sponsorship is not focused on large television buys or in-stadium signage (all Olympic venues are commercially “clean”). You can build a platform around client hospitality, internal recognition and contests, branding, product showcasing or building business. Where you choose to leverage the affiliation is entirely up to you. And the power of the affiliation is unparalleled. In his book “Brand Warfare: 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand” (McGraw-Hill, 2002), former John Hancock CEO David D'Allessandro stated: “When John Hancock became an Olympic sponsor ... the advantages to our brand were enormous. ... [It] offers us a platform for all our marketing efforts.” In addition to its branding potential, the Olympic platform is ideal for showcasing products and services. Early last month, General Electric Co. put out a press release headlined “10 Months to Go—London 2012 Is Already a Winning Showcase for GE.” In it, the company said, “Advanced energy systems, high-tech lighting, uninterruptible power supplies, state-of-the-art healthcare imaging equipment and electric car charging points are among the GE innovations being showcased at next summer's 30th Olympiad in an estimated 75 GE Olympic Games projects.” Another b-to-b marketer, Deloitte, takes great pride in providing professional services for the U.S. Olympic Committee. Dow Chemical Co. announced its Olympic sponsorship in July 2010, saying, “We are serious about capturing new revenue and are putting in place a business structure that ensures our new partnership will deliver maximum value for shareholders.” All these sponsorships share this in common: Each was derived by creating business development programs in a b-to-b environment that help generate a return in both brand building and client engagement. It is the flexibility the Olympic platform provides, combined with the positive attributes associated with the partnership, that makes it both unique and powerful. So don't be surprised to see an ever-increasing number of b-to-b marketers becoming Olympic sponsors, as potential returns drive even more companies to join in the games. Gordon Kane is founder of Victory Sports Marketing. He can be reached at [email protected]
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