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per cent is retained by the IOC to help meet the costsit bears. A high proportion of the so-called 'value-in-kind' goods and services contributed by TOP partnersis passed on to the OCOGs, since this often takes theform of infrastructure vital for staging the Games.Examples include Omega, the exclusive TOP partner in the Timing, Scoring and Venue Results Servicecategory, and Atos Origin, whose exclusive category is Information Technology.Two years ago, I was given an insight into the fullextent of Atos's contribution, with a visit to theTechnology Operation Centre for the Beijing Games,located on the 11th floor of a building near the famousWater Cube, venue for the aquatics events. There, asaround this vast city, the cream of the world's athletesstrained every sinew in pursuit of Olympic gold, rowafter row of computer screens glowed behind a transp-arent glass wall. It was explained that the systemsmonitored there, designed and built by Atos, fell into two main categories: Games Management Systems,such as accreditations, transport and accommodationschedules and VIP protocols; and Information DiffusionSystems carrying the timing and scoring data recordedby Omega to international media at lightning speed. As I listened, a figure on the wall signified that 343,848people, the equivalent of a good-sized town, had so farbeen issued with an accreditation badge.Why do Atos and other similarly-minded partnersgo to all this trouble? What better way can there be of demonstrating their ability to successfullyundertake complex projects in a high-pressureenvironment with the eyes of the world upon them?As Philippe Germond, Atos's then CEO, said "I believe it will just provide a good platform for AtosOrigin to demonstrate its technological strength to the world and especially its customers in China. The expertise that we gain from delivering thiscomplex and time-critical project will be transferredto other global clients that are looking to us todeliver similar high-performance IT infrastructureswhere real-time data is paramount."TOP, of course, does not preclude NOCs andOlympic Games Organising Committees (OCOGs)from finding their own sponsors in product categoriesnot reserved for the TOP partners. And indeed theBeijing Games broke all records for these domesticsponsorships, generating well in excess of $1 billion.This structure can be confusing for those not familiarwith the Olympic Movement's organisation andworking methods. It can even create internal friction if a Games organiser has its eye on a productcategory usually reserved for TOP. But, as TimoLumme, Director of IOC Television and Marketing,argues, the existence of TOP has also had significantspin-off benefits for those seeking partners for otherOlympic sponsorship programmes."TOP is very much the pole that holds up theOlympic revenue tent from the sponsorship side,"Lumme says. "I am not sure that all the growth wehave recently seen in national sponsorship would havebeen possible without a successful and vibrant TOPprogramme. When you have companies of this statureinvolved in TOP, it makes it easier for other marketersto say, 'Hey it works for them, it will work for us'."He goes on: "When an OCOG comes on board, we spend a lot of time bringing them up to speed onOlympic marketing. We sign an agreement called aMarketing Plan Agreement with the OCOG. That setsout the rules of the game for marketing activities in thehost territory. As a by-product of that, we do have livelyconversations about product categories. We also get a lot of inquiries from potential sponsors. The majorityare not suitable for TOP, so we pass them on."The international financial crisis had an impact onTOP, slowing down the progress of negotiations in the period between the Beijing and Vancouver Games. Did this slowdown also suggest that the programme,which has served the Movement so well for a quarterof a century, is ripe for reform? Few of us, after all, aredriving around in motor cars designed as long ago as1985. Heiberg thinks not, arguing that any difficultiesencountered over the past two years are: "100 percent based on the financial crisis. Nobody has said thisprogramme is outdated or doesn't work any more."Procter & Gamble's decision to become a TOPsponsor followed its partnership with Team USA at this year's Vancouver Games. The company said this"resulted in increased favourability ratings, greatermarket share and nearly $100 million in incrementalsales". As Marc Pritchard, P&G Global Marketing and58OLYMPIC REVIEWTOP PARTNERSAbove President RoggewelcomesProcter & Gambleto the team

OLYMPIC REVIEW59Brand Building Officer, explained in London: "WhatVancouver represented for us then was essentially a pilot to see whether we could take all of our brandsand really make something out of that.It justbecame obvious for us that the next step was toexpand that to other markets around the world." Like Dow, P&G has signed up until 2020.So is the TOP model good for another 25 years?"We have asked ourselves that question manytimes and talked to a lot of people outside the OlympicMovement," Heiberg replies. "We always wind up with,yes, small changes, but the basic idea is still a very,very good one." He explains that while Olympicdecision-makers are making room for a possiblereform by not, for the moment, concluding deals thatextend beyond 2020, this should not be interpreted as a signal that major surgery is likely. "We are making deals up to 2020," he says."Some companies want to go further and we havesaid, 'No'. We will see whether we make changes orcontinue. So far we have decided it is still basically a good model maybe with one or two changes."Lumme adopts a similar line. "Sponsorship hasbeen a tough sell for everyone in the last couple ofyears. I feel pretty comfortable about the next 25 yearsof TOP." He continues: "It's a value-based programme,not an exposure-based programme. Sponsors arebuying association with one of the most valuable andwell-known brands in the world - the five rings. Weknow from our research that across the world at least96% of people recognise the five rings and know whatthey stand for." As Lumme acknowledges, however,"You are only as strong as the property you arerepresenting". So for Olympic sponsorship to remain aspowerful and valuable a tool as at present, the OlympicGames must remain "relevant and exciting". One areawhere Lumme concedes that there could be change is the categorisation of technology products. Thesecontinue to evolve with extraordinary speed and toconverge, with the result that ostensibly very differentproducts can be used for the same functions. "Withtechnology changing every day, it is quite clear therewill be some challenges with traditional categorisationby product category," Lumme says. "I do foresee having to have a pretty good review of how we keepclear daylight between the partners in this area."The former Marketing Commission ChairmanPound, for his part, warns against something called"category creep". This is not a reference to 1930shorror movies, but marketing jargon for the way inwhich product categories can have a tendancy toexpand. These, though, are matters for another day. As TOP marks its first 25 years, it is fitting to raise one's hat to a programme that transformed the IOC's financial fortunes and, in the words of President Rogge,enabled the promotion of the Olympic ideal around theworld to "really.take off". A TOP hat, of course. nVANCOUVER 2010lTOP is the only sponsorship programme providing some of the world's leading companies with a global association with the Olympic MovementlThe last complete cycle of the TOP Programme - the highest level of Olympic sponsorship - generated US$866 million in revenue, goods and services for the Olympic Movement as a whole, making it the second largest source of income after broadcasting revenue.lRevenue from the TOP Programme is shared throughout the whole Movement to the Organising Committees and all 205 NOCs and their teamslIn addition to their financial support, Olympic partners' products, services and expertise are vital to the success of the GameslPartners also help promote the Games around the world through their marketing campaigns and sponsorship activations, often spending several times the value of their initial investment, meaning the Olympic Movement can reach a global audienceHOW THE TOP PARTNERS MAKE THE GAMES HAPPENAbovePioneers of theTOP programmewith PresidentRogge and DickPound at the25th anniversaryReunion Dinner,held earlier this yearLeftThe DowChemicalCompany joinedthe programme in 2010