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 2 Billion! What the Sponsors are Paying at the 2016 Olympics
Sports-business | 29.07.2016

Olympic Games in Brazil

Sponsors at the 2016 Olympics: The Multi-Billion Dollar Business

2 Billion! What the Sponsors are Paying at the 2016 Olympics. Always largely represented, already at the qualifiers for synchronized swimming before the Olympics: Visa is a “Worldwide Olympic Partner.” (Quelle: Imago/Insidefoto)
Always largely represented, already at the qualifiers for synchronized swimming before the Olympics: Visa is a “Worldwide Olympic Partner.”
Bild: Imago/Insidefoto
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The sponsors of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio (August 5-21) will fetch an estimated two billion euros into the pockets of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As a result, they are the biggest sources of income for the Summer Games, next to TV rights holders. But the companies are also profiting alongside the organizers.

The brands aren’t just vying for sponsorship deals with the IOC, but also for the athletes. Participating in the Olympics, and all the more a medal, increase athletes’ market value immensely. ISPO.com reveals who the backers are, what they’re paying, and how the ad campaigns are catching on. 

Who are Olympic sponsors, anyway?

There are different groups of sponsors at the Olympic Games. Eleven giants may call themselves “Worldwide Olympic Partners,” who conclude longer-term contracts over at least one Olympic cycle of four years. Those are: Coca Cola, McDonalds, Visa, Bridgestone, Samsung, Panasonic, Omega, Procter & Gamble (P&G), General Electric (GE), Dow, and Atos. Each of these companies pay an estimated 100 million euros to the IOC for the four-year period from 2013 to 2016, and in return can advertise directly with the mega event. Starting in 2017, Toyota will be new on board. 


The second group is the “Official Sponsors of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games,” who pay their money directly to Rio’s Olympic Organizing Committee. Aside from the automotive partner Nissan, these are mostly Brazilian companies like Embratel, Bradesco, Claro, Net, and Correios. In the category of “Official Supporters of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games” are ten companies which include Cisco, Globo, or Latam Airlines. Another 30 companies are “Official Suppliers of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games”: Among them are famous firms like Nike, Microsoft, Airbnb, Eventim, and C&A. The Organizing Committee for the Rio Olympic Games is hoping for total sponsorship revenues of about one billion euros.

Read more here: How the Sponsors of the Euro 2016 are Making a Profit

Who are the most famous Olympic sponsors?

  • 1. Coca Cola: The beginning of support at the Olympic Games dates back to the Summer Games of 1928, when the drink was first offered to athletes and spectators. For this reason, the beverage giant has been connected with the Olympics the longest. In social media, Coca Cola uses the hashtag #THATSGOLD. The stars at the 2016 Olympics: decathlon star Ashton Eaton and soccer player Alex Morgan, among others.

  • 2. McDonald's: The company first appeared at the Olympic Winter Games in 1968. Back then, the US athletes lamented that they would miss the company’s familiar hamburgers in French Grenoble. As a result, McDonald’s just had burgers flown into the “Grande Nation.” The company has been an official sponsor since 1976. McDonald’s’ hashtag: #FriendsWin. The stars at the 2016 Olympics: the McDonald’s Kids at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, among others.

  • 3. Swatch/Omega: The Swatch Group – currently represented with one of its master brands Omega – had been responsible for timekeeping at the Olympic Games, with a few exceptions, since 1932 in Los Angeles. Each time a world record, or just a time, is displayed, the logo goes around the world. As a sponsor, the company has also been a “Worldwide Olympic Partner” of the IOC since 2004. Hashtag: #OmegaVivaRio. The stars at the 2016 Olympics: Michael Phelps, among others.

  • 4. Visa: In the Olympic sports facilities, you can only pay with cash or a Visa credit card. The company has been involved as a top sponsor since 1986, and is especially famous for its spots with significant Olympic moments. Hashtag: #TeamVisa. Stars at the 2016 Olympics: the refugee team at the Rio Olympic Games, a total of over 350 athletes worldwide.

What does sponsorship bring to the Olympics?

That’s controversial. With Olympic sponsors like Coca Cola, McDonald’s, or Visa, money flights directly into the bank through sales at the sports facilities. Sportswear manufacturers, on the other hand, participate indirectly at most. “Millions of jersey are sold in the surroundings of major soccer events like the World Cup or the European Championship, but that’s not the case at the Olympics. For that reason, worldwide awareness of the brand is valuable,” says an Adidas spokesperson.

In addition to numerous international stars, in track for example, Adidas also outfits the German Olympic team with clothing (read more here: Adidas, not Bogner, as Outfitter) – this time, for the Opening Ceremony, as well.

In an international survey on the topic of awareness of Olympic sponsors, Coca Cola is in first place. Curious: Among the 15 most named companies, half of them weren’t Olympic sponsors at all. 

Definitely curious are the IOC’s order which describe exactly what all non-Olympic sponsors are not allowed to do during the Games in Rio. Author and blogger Malte Spitz drew attention to a presentation by the German Olympic Sports Confederation: So “expressions that are connected with the Olympic Games (Olympic Games, German Olympic team, Rio 2016 etc. – see overview on the next page)” are not released for use “in advertising material or social media content.” Even “social media content with an Olympic reference to the IOC/OCOG/RIO 2016/DOSB/German Olympic team” may not be “retweeted” or “shared.” Also, everyday terms like “summer” or “games” may not be used in social media communication.


How do the Olympic sponsors energize the public?

Various international campaigns are already running for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. P&G tells the emotional stories of Olympic athletes and their mothers: “Thank you, Mom”Panasonic is advertising with Brazilian soccer star Neymar, Visa is supporting the refugee team in Rio, which will start under the Olympic flag. Coca Cola is focusing increasing on the social media factor for the first time. “It’s now a completely different game; the phenomenon of social media first began in London 2012,” says Kate Hartmann, brand PR chief of the company “PRWeek.”

On top of Facebook and Twitter, many other important tools like Snapchat or Instagram have come on the scene. That’s why Coca Cola, in addition to a campaign “Taste the golden feeling” for traditional media like TV or newspapers, also brought so-called “social media influencers” into the mix. That’s how, for example, British YouTuber Jake Boys, Canadian fashion blogger Allie Evans, and Australian siblings Cody and Alli Simpsons are advertising in Rio 2016. It’s their job to bring the message of #THATSGOLD to the (young) people.

Lars Becker (Quelle: Lars Becker)
Article by Lars Becker, author
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