52OLYMPIC REVIEWTOP PARTNERS25YEARSAT THETOPDAVID OWENLOOKS AT THE SUCCESS OF THE OLYMPIC PARTNER (TOP) PROGRAMMEON ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY
OLYMPIC REVIEW53TOP PARTNERSIt is a little after noon on July 28, 2010 andJacques Rogge, the International OlympicCommittee President, is in a London hotel just upthe road from Big Ben with the mothers of some ofthe world's best-known Olympians. The occasion? A news conference to announce the arrival of Procter & Gamble (P&G), the consumer products companybehind brands like Gillette, Duracell and Iams, as aworldwide Olympic sponsor. Exactly 12 days earlier inNew York, the Dow Chemical Company, another blue-chip US corporation, had also signed on as a TOPpartner. Taken together, the two deals demonstratedthe continuing vigour of the Olympic Movement'sflagship global marketing programme, even inexceptionally testing economic times.Consider this: by the time the Olympic cauldron is extinguished in London at the end of the Games in 2012, TOP (as The Olympic Partners programme is universally known) will have generated a staggering$3.5 billion in cash and so-called value-in-kind prod-ucts and services, or thereabouts, for the Movement,since its inception in 1985. The majority of this revenuehas been channelled to Games organisers and to the205 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) around theworld. Moreover, in the process of activating their TOPpartnership rights, over the last 25 years getting on for30 of the world's most respected multinational corpo-rations have helped to promote the Olympic values. As Rogge recently observed: "The TOP programme has helped ensure the viability of the Games andsecure the financial future of the Olympic Movement.Quite simply, staging the Olympic Games would not be possible without our partners across the globe." Today, the Olympic Movement, in addition to everything else it represents, is one of the biggestcommercial actors in the world of sport, generatingrevenues of more than $5 billion in each four-year period from broadcasting and marketing rights, ticketsales and the licensing of Olympic merchandise. Thirty years ago, the picture could hardly havelooked more different. As Richard Pound, one of thelongest-serving IOC members and one of the chiefarchitects of the TOP programme's success, wrote inhis book, Inside the Olympics, published in 2004: "Theeconomic model of the Olympic movement [in 1980]was a prescription for disaster. Governments providedalmost all financial resources and were not the slightestbit shy about tying such support to their own politicalagendas. Such private sector support as existed was derived almost entirely from television revenues,and of these, about 95 per cent came from a single source, the United States."Furthermore, the Movement was also in the middleof a damaging era of political boycotts. The MoscowGames of that year was subject to arguably the mostdamaging of all such initiatives, the US-led boycott. Intothis unpromising situation - likened by Pound to a"political sword of Damocles over the Movement" - ?