Over dinner recently with someone who works for Intel Sports, the topic turned toward the future of Olympic sponsorships. The point was made that many of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sponsors heavily favor what is known as the Business 2 Business (or B2B) model. When asked why that is, the response was that the target audience of many of the Olympic sponsors is no longer the mass audience of fans. The target audience is now other businesses.
Upon some reflection and a bit of research, it seems that this assessment holds true. To better understand this perspective, it’s helpful to look at who the Worldwide Olympic Sponsors are [IOC Sponsors]. The following are the Olympic Sponsors to date: Coca-Cola; Alibaba Group; Atos; Bridgestone; Dow; GE; Intel; Omega; Panasonic; P&G; Samsung; Toyota; and VISA. Of the 13 Olympic Sponsors, at least six of them are focusing on the B2B aspect in their partnership.
Think about it like this. If you were to visit Atos, Dow Chemical, GE , or Intel’s websites, you wouldn’t necessarily find consumer products. Instead what you would find is information about products and services that could help a variety of other industries. This seems to be the way Olympic Sponsorship is trending. If these companies can demonstrate their ability, usefulness, and effectiveness managing the most complex logistical event in the world, imagine what they could do for your business.
Another key aspect of the B2B sponsorship is that companies like to align themselves with proven winners or with companies that push the limits of innovation. What better way to unveil new technology or to announce what the company’s brand stands for than at the Olympic Games? Literally, the entire world will be watching, and if the sponsorship is utilized to its full advantage, the sponsorship of the Olympic Games stands to propel the worldwide profile of the company’s brand.
The Summer Olympic Games will be back on American soil in 2028 when Los Angeles will be the host city. I have no doubt that many of the national and international Olympic sponsors will be B2B companies. As I have previously discussed in another blog, Team USA typically wins the most medals out of all participating countries. B2B companies like to associate themselves with winners, and Team USA is the quintessential winner. Not only that, this will be a great opportunity to unveil something new that could separate the sponsor companies from the rest of their competition.
We are entering a new era in which sponsorship from companies marketing consumer products will dry up, and sponsorship from companies marketing products and services for other companies will continue to expand. What does this mean for the competing athletes? The athletes that are able to understand how the sponsor is looking to maximize their footprint at the Games will be a valuable asset. Not only talking about their individual Olympic dreams and journey to the Games, these athletes could be utilized to demonstrate new technologies or processes for the sponsors potential clients. For example, if Panasonic is looking to debut a new technological system, having athletes that can understand this technology and be able to help showcase its capabilities to the worldwide audience can prove to be a valuable proposition for the athletes and sponsor.
Athletes need to be aware of the marketing strategies of the Olympic sponsors and understand what each is attempting to gain out of their sponsorship.
Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 and LA 2028 will all arrive sooner than you think; the nature of the Olympic sponsorships began to change during Rio 2016 and will continue to do so. For athletes, the time to research and make contacts with companies is now. Delaying this process could leave athletes scrambling at the last minute as they pursue their Olympic dreams.