Golden 25: #11 -- Key Sponsors Affirm Olympic, Paralympic Support

(ATR) The lure of the rings remains irresistible for worldwide brands.

(ATR) The club of 12 Olympic Partners gets ready for the Tokyo Games, the midpoint of the Asian journey for the IOC marketing program.

From PyeongChang to Tokyo, then on to Beijing, the worldwide sponsors appear to be welcoming the experience. A year ago the possibility the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics would be cancelled seemed as likely as North Korea sending a team. But as it happened, fast-moving diplomacy in the weeks ahead of PyeongChang displaced fears of calamity for calm.

Now Tokyo -- a sophisticated, trend-setting society -- looms as the biggest commercial market for Olympic sponsors.

Japanese partners Toyota, Panasonic and Bridgestone are expected to develop big plans for activation during the Games.

Toyota, the mobility sponsor for the IOC, is expected to demonstrate advances in technology, not just automobiles. And there’s still the idea that a Toyota flying car might be used to light the cauldron in 2020.

Coca-Cola, worldwide sponsor until 2028, will partner with Toyota in staging the Olympic Torch Relay. The two giants should be able to create a powerful attention-getter for the Olympics across Japan. Coke veteran Lauri Chotiner is one of the key execs in planning and strategy.

Alibaba Group is now launching its Olympic commerce site. It is supposed to become a worldwide shopping bazaar for all manner of collectibles. With the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, Alibaba will have the opportunity to launch a showcase in its home market. Considered a cutting-edge sponsor, Alibaba needs activation programs that demonstrate its cloud-based services. Chris Tung is the affable marketing chief; Julian Gornall-Thode at Shankai Sports is a driving force in marketing communications.

Intel will be making its second foray into the Olympics in 2020. With the promise of using its technology to bring new perspective to watching the Olympics, Tokyo is its next testing ground.

Samsung, which at one point was rumored to be considering an end to its sponsorship, is now on board through 2028. The renewal is the latest indication that the Olympics is still a high value marketing tool for the right company.

Among the dozen current sponsors, GE is the only one with major doubts about a renewal after 2020. The firm has been through a major restructuring in 2018 that may make the Olympics no longer appropriate for marketing.

Atos and Dow, both using the Olympics as a B2B marketing strategy, will be evaluating their future with the Olympics. Both sponsorships expire after 2020. Louis Vega and Linda Lim steer Dow's Olympic strategy.

P&G, the U.S.-based consumer products giant, is also examining its options after 2020, when its worldwide partnership expires.

Omega, timing sponsor for the Games, will use the Olympics to parachute its brand into the Japanese market where Seiko is dominant.

Payment sponsor Visa will do well in Tokyo, far better than in 1998, the last time the Olympics were held in Japan. While Visa was widely accepted in the Olympic venues, it was less widely used in commerce due to Japanese regulations of that era. Those protective rules also kept ATMs which accepted foreign Visa cards well hidden and limited in number.

The Around the Rings Golden 25 is the annual survey of individuals who will have the most influence for the Olympic Movement in the year ahead. First published in 1997, this is the 22nd edition.

Reported by Ed Hula.