GM's Huge Pact Raises Olympics Bar: U.S. Team, NBC Both Will Benefit Fron 12-Year, $900 Million Deal

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General Motors Corp. unveiled its 12-year, estimated $900 million sponsorship and marketing agreements with the U.S. Olympic Committee and NBC last week, revealing a deal significantly larger than the eight-year packages the USOC has been pitching to potential sponsors.

The deal may raise the bar for the size and scope of future Olympics sponsorships.

John Krimsky Jr., USOC managing director-business affairs, said he would like to see the GM agreement serve as a "blueprint for the future" of Olympics marketing.


NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol said he expects at least one more multi-Olympics sponsorship agreement to be reached within 60 days, and said the network and USOC may sign as many as four GM-type pacts by yearend.

As expected, GM became the first marketer to sign on with Olympic Properties of the U.S., the USOC's new marketing arm run in conjunction with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (AA, July 14).

The USOC deal makes GM the official domestic car and truck of the U.S. Olympic Team from now through the 2008 Games, while the NBC package gives GM domestic category exclusivity and media placement for the network's coverage of the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 Olympics.

While officials at GM, NBC and USOC declined to reveal the amount of money involved in the deal, the pact has been reported to be worth $600 million, with GM likely to spend another $300 million to leverage its involvement with the Olympics.

The majority of the package is thought to go toward media buys, with GM purchasing as much as 12% of NBC's Olympics airtime.


"This isn't about dollars, it's about value," said Phil Guarascio, VP-general manager of marketing and advertising for North American Operations at GM. "What we have here is a strong, cost-effective marketing initiative for the company."

Since the U.S. Olympic Team sponsorship part of the deal was arranged by OPUS, which includes organizers for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, GM was able to buy a reprisal of the role it played last year in Atlanta-official domestic car and truck-for the Salt Lake City Games.

Mr. Ebersol said NBC is looking for a company to fill the import automotive slot for the NBC-televised games; BMW is reportedly in negotiations for that role.


Anheuser-Busch Cos., AT&T Corp. and Lucent Technologies look to be close to deals with USOC, while Coca-Cola Co. and A-B are reportedly close to signing on with NBC.

"In the mid-'80s, broadcasters and sponsorships sales efforts were seen as competitive. An NBC would worry that it would be last on the food chain," said Michael Payne, director of marketing for the International Olympic Committee. "That has evolved. Broadcasters realize they can be partners with Olympic organizing committees, and realize that sponsors can be a valuable source of promotional support for their broadcasts."

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