Sponsor Spotlight: Visa, Samsung, Web Sites

(ATR) As Beijing starts collecting on 2008 tickets, Visa reports satisfaction with the numbers, Samsung launches a new campaign and TOP sponsors begin activating online Olympic marketing. More inside the Sponsor Spotlight.

BOCOG Ringing up Visa Sales

More than one-quarter of Olympic ticket buyers in China are using Visa, says a company spokeswoman.

"All in all, we are quite pleased with the results," says Sabine Middlemass of Visa International.

Visa processed 27 percent of the 300,000 transactions in the first round of ticket sales, she says.

As in past Games, purchasers can pay with Visa or from an account from the host bank. In this case, the 2008 exclusive banking sponsor is the Bank of China.

"Visa and the BOC are now actively promoting Olympic card acceptance and accompanying it with consistent and clear communications to merchants and cardholders at the Games," Middlemass tells Around the Rings.

For several months, television viewers in some Asian markets have seen a series of Visa commercials starring Jackie Chan trying Olympic sports and using a Visa card.

Chinese consumers are a fairly untapped market for credit card companies. Only about 20% of mainland residents have a credit card, according to a recent report from Chinese media.

"Visa’s role in these and every Games is to support the development of modern, competitive payment systems which in turn stimulate social and economic change. China is an emerging growth market and we are working with our banks in China and with BOCOG to do just that," says Middlemass.

Samsung and EOC Target Youth Obesity

Samsung and the European Olympic Committees kick off the first year of a youth health program with an Olympic champion in a classic sport setting.

The Get Up and Go program means sports equipment for young people and training for their coaches. Fighting obesity is one goal; encouraging kids to play sports for the joy rather than winning is another.

Tennis star and program ambassador Goran Ivanisevic joined 150 schoolchildren at the Stadio della Pallacorda in Rome for the Sept. 13 launch.

The youngsters in Rome couldsample any one of ten Olympic sports. Back at school, sporting goods donated under the program will help them practice more.

Schools and after-school clubs that reach as many as 112,500 youth will receive equipment under the program. In the inaugural year, the EOC will coordinate the program in Italy, the UK, Denmark, Croatia and Ireland. Both Samsung and EOC plan for the program to expand next year.

Coaches, teachers and leaders at the facilities will also get teaching materials and training sessions.

Equipment deliveries start in October.

Sponsor Websites Starting Olympic Updates

With less than a year before the 2008 Beijing Games, sponsors are beginning to launch Olympic web sites. Eleven of the 12 TOP Olympic sponsors now have web pages devoted to the Beijing Games - Johnson & Johnson being the only exception. Of these 11 companies, four - Coke, Kodak, Visa, and McDonald's – are running campaigns on their Chinese websites. The remaining seven feature the Olympics on English and Chinese sites.

McDonald's Announces Profitable Month

Same-store sales at McDonald's outlets rose 8.1% from July to August, according to a company announcement this week.

But much of the jump came from Asia-Pacific outlets, where sales rose by 12.4%. And there is still a lot of room for growth in China, say analysts.

The TOP sponsor plans to open 125 new restaurants in China in 2008.

Sky-High Olympic Tour Offered by Beijing Airline Sponsor

Beijing Olympic sponsor Air China has launched travel offers for the 2008 Games that include tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies. One package includes a first class Korea-China flight, a first class domestic flight in China, and a ticket for the opening ceremony on Aug. 8 for $18,586. No accommodation is offered in the package.

A second offer has a first class Korea to China flight, a first class domestic flight in China, three nights at a four-star hotel and a ticket for the closing ceremony on Aug. 24 for $17,269. In comparison, the most expensive travel offer from Korean company Hanatour Service is $4,306.