As the world’s largest sporting event, participation in the Olympic Games is a dream come true for any athlete. And as the world’s largest marketing platform, it’s also a dream come true for any corporation – provided it has the money to join in the festivities. It’s estimated that this year’s Winter Games in Vancouver will cost about C$2 billion to stage. All of that money is privately raised and distributed by the International Olympic Committee, which oversees the whole shebang through various entities associated with host countries. While more than half of the money comes from the sale of broadcasting rights, 34% of the cash comes from sponsorships. There are all sorts of levels of sponsorships but none more prestigious – or expensive – than the elite members of the IOC’s TOP (The Olympic Partners) Programme.
TOP Partners must commit to a four year cycle that covers both the Summer and Winter Games. They gain exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the Olympics and provide both products and services to the games themselves. During the current cycle that covers Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games in London, the IOC has pulled in more than $860 million from its nine TOP Partners and hopes to pass a billion in revenue.
The TOP Partners for the current cycle include:
1. Coca-Cola: The world’s largest beverage company has been an Olympic sponsor longer than any other company, dating all the way back to the 1928 Amsterdam Games. It quenches the (non-alcoholic) thirst of virtually everyone taking in a competition.
2. Acer: The Taiwan-based computer and electronics maker supplies the Games with notebook PCs and related equipment.
3. Atos Origin: The French IT services company keeps the vast amount of technology at the Games running smoothly.
4. General Electric: Befitting the world’s largest and most diverse company, GE contributes a ton of products and services to the Games – everything from power and lighting systems to medical equipment used to treat athletes.
5. McDonald’s: Millions and millions are served burgers and fries at the Games. McDonald’s has sponsored the Olympics since 1976.
6. Omega: Timing is everything at many Olympic events, and most of the devices are supplied by Omega and its Switzerland-based parent company, The Swatch Group.
7. Panasonic: Japan’s Panasonic provides the Games with a wide range of audio visual equipment such as cameras, televisions and video screens at the sporting venues.
8. Samsung: Korea’s Samsung keeps people at the Olympics chatting through telecommunications equipment such as mobile phones.
9. Visa: Last but not least is Visa. As the ads tell us every two years, it’s the only card accepted at the Olympic Games.