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TOP PARTNERS M uch is made of the relationship between the IOC and its partners, and it is difficult to argue with those who suggest it represents one of the best examples of sports sponsorship in the world. Since the TOP programme began in 1985, Olympic sponsorship has become a significant and sustainable revenue stream for the Olympic Movement. The 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, representing around 30% of total IOC revenues and making it the second largest source of income after broadcasting revenue. Olympic sponsorship is far from traditional in the world of sports marketing, however, and while the Olympic Games deliver massive global television audiences, it makes demands of its commercial partners that are significantly different to those of ? OLYMPIC REVIEW51

52OLYMPIC REVIEW TOP PARTNERS other major sports events and, in return, delivers significantly different benefits. IOC President Jacques Rogge was not overstating the fundamental importance of the relationship between the Olympic Movement and its partners when he said: " Without the support of the business community, without its technology, expertise, people services, products, telecommunications, its financing - the Olympic Games could not and cannot happen. Without this support the athletes cannot compete and achieve their very best in the world's best sporting event." Indeed, central to the success of the Olympic Games is the role that the Worldwide Olympic partners play in actually staging the Games and adding significant value to the experience of athletes, officials and spectators. The Olympic Games are a challenging organisational and managerial feat and the support of the Worldwide Olympic partners is crucial in ensuring each edition is a resounding success. The challenges of organising and staging a multi- sport event with over 10,000 athletes and millions of spectators are such that the Partners - whose products, services and know- how contribute to the effective delivery of the Games - see it as a proving ground for their products and capabilities. The financial and operational support the Worldwide TOP partners provide is irreplaceable. According to recent research conducted by the IOC in 16 different countries, over two thirds of the public agreed that the TOP Partners provide vital support and funding to ensure the Games take place, and 78% think it's appropriate to have sponsors of the Olympic Games. Technology partners - such as Acer, Atos Origin, Omega, Samsung and Panasonic - use the Games to showcase their ability to deliver on one of the biggest stages in the world. At Games time, these partners provide the technology and operational support that make the Games possible, including timing and scoring systems, IT and audiovisual infrastructure and wireless communications. For the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, those contributions include innovative computing equipment, supplied by Acer, and 200 tonnes of timing and scoring equipment, provided by Omega. Panasonic will also be supplying LED large-screen displays, professional audio systems, flat screen TVs, digital video cameras, DVD recorders, and broadcast equipment, while Samsung will provide wireless technology such as handsets and the Wireless Olympic Works communication platform, keeping Olympic officials, athletes and media connected and informed during the Olympic Games. " Managing this highly complex project and bringing together all the necessary cutting- edge technologies requires a unique expertise," explains Thierry Breton, Chairman and CEO of Atos Origin, who will integrate the contributions of all the technology partners during the Games. As well as these technological contributions, partners also develop highly creative, sophisticated advertising and promotional programmes, making full use of their association with Olympic symbols, culture and heritage. While each is different in conception and content, each is, inevitably, moulded around the power of the Olympic brand and helps to reinforce its inherent power. Worldwide Olympic partners typically spend up to three times the value of their initial sponsorship commitment on promoting their association with the Games, which in turn helps spread the Olympic values around the world. The IOC would simply not be able to achieve the huge marketing reach of companies like Coca- Cola and McDonald's on its own, which makes their global promotional programmes so important to the Olympic Movement. " It's a unique opportunity to bring the Games to everybody and a fantastic opportunity to share the values and excitement of the Games," says Thierry Borra, Coca- Cola's Director of Olympic Games Management. Perhaps the most obvious way in which the partners' support directly benefits the Games, however, is the assistance it provides to the athletes and Olympic teams themselves. The money generated from the TOP Programme is distributed directly to each of the 205 National Olympic Committees around the world, enabling them to develop their Olympic teams and send athletes to the Games. It's a responsibility that the partners find extremely rewarding. " We're proud of our role in bringing athletes closer to their dreams," says Antonio Lucio, Chief Marketing Officer at Visa, which also supports promising athletes directly through its Team Visa initiative. Below left The McDonald's Champions Kids programme will enable youngsters from around the world to witness the Games live as they did in Beijing