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SPINdex admires Olympic marketer John Hancock Life Insurance for not following the pack of sponsors commercializing the Atlanta Games with splashy, big-budget media buys, but it questions the logic.

Of the 10 worldwide Olympic sponsors-Bausch & Lomb, Coca-Cola, Hancock, IBM, Kodak, Panasonic, Sports Illustrated, United Parcel Service, Visa and Xerox-Hancock ranks dead last in Olympic-related media impressions during the year leading up to the Atlanta Games in the SPINdex sample of media outlets.

Hancock shelled out roughly the same $40 million or so on Olympic sponsorship rights as the other worldwide marketers, yet opted to spend peanuts on media buys supporting the marketing effort.

By comparison, Coca-Cola is spending hundreds of millions in additional marketing dollars supporting its Olympic sponsorship, including a $62 million media buy for 100 different commercial executions on NBC's coverage of the Games.

The result: Coca-Cola generated 1,276 SPINdex points in the past year, including 19 newscasts totaling 9.5 minutes of network TV time and 87 stories in major daily newspapers generating 84,450 words of copy.

Hancock scored a SPINdex of 68, got no TV news coverage and generated only five newspaper, three newsweekly and two trade press stories in a year.

Hancock executives defend their media strategy, noting Olympic ad clutter makes it difficult for a sponsor to stand out.

Stories about Olympic clutter generated 98 SPINdex points over the past year, mustering more coverage than Hancock's Olympic marketing program.

And Olympic ambush marketing generated a SPINdex of 305, ranking fifth among Olympic marketing events tracked by SPINdex over the past year and ahead of the efforts of six of the worldwide Olympic sponsors.

Ambush marketing attracted 39 stories in the past year, more coverage than Bausch & Lomb, Hancock, Panasonic, Sports Illustrated, UPS and Xerox got.

Heavy media spenders IBM, Kodak and Visa also got the heaviest news media play. Deep-pocketed Visa earned a SPINdex of 772 with 89 stories, including 5 minutes of network news time and 54 articles in major daily newspapers.

With 72 stories, including 10 minutes of network news time and 23 daily newspaper articles, IBM ranked third with 492 points.

Kodak earned 453 SPINdex points from 66 stories, including 9.5 minutes of network news time and 31 newspaper articles.

Joe Mandese is senior VP of Myers Reports. Mark Weiner is VP of Medialink PR Research.

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