Sports advertising: Swatch Group signs on as Olympic Partner sponsor

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The Swatch Group signed an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to become its eighth Olympic Partners sponsor, which will allow it to market its status as official Olympic timekeeper.

Earlier this year, Swatch signed a 10-year deal with the IOC to be the official timing, scoring and venue results provider, but the Swiss watchmaker was not a paying sponsor.

The new deal makes Swatch the official timing supplier, competition-results manager and licensed merchandised sponsor for the period 2005 through 2008, which covers the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Like the seven other Olympic Partner sponsors-Coca-Cola Co., John Hancock, Eastman Kodak Co., Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Schlumberger-Sema and Visa USA-Swatch has global Olympic marketing rights and is expected to pay $50 million to $75 million per four-year Olympic cycle.

A spokesman in Swatch's headquarters in Biel-Bienne, Switzerland, confirmed the deal but declined to discuss spending, saying "We're happy to continue our association with the Olympics."

The pact with the IOC comes on the heels of Swatch's deal last week with the United States Olympic Committee in which Swatch had agreed to be the official timekeeping sponsor and supplier for the 2004, 2006 and 2008 U.S. Olympic teams. That deal is believed to be worth approximately $10 million. Seiko was the previous sponsor during the recent 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

A sponsorship in the timekeeping category is generally considered the most visible, as the marketer's name is splashed across scoring devices everywhere from the ski slopes in winter to the pool in summer.

But sports marketing expert David Carter, president of Los Angeles-based Sports Business Group, said this sponsorship means even more to Swatch.


"It gives them further legitimacy as a reliable timekeeper," Mr. Carter said. "In North America, [people] think of Swatch as a trendy watch from a decade ago. Clearly it's about getting their message out on a global basis but it also helps authenticate their line as a reliable timepiece. The notoriety obviously is good, but unlike brands like Visa and Samsung and Coca-Cola, who are established, credible brands-and I'm not saying Swatch isn't-the authenticity as a reliable brand helps them more than the other [Olympic Partners] sponsors."

Swatch Group has 18 brands, including Swatch, Rado, Longines and Omega, among others.

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