July 17 (Reuters) - The Olympics Games are sponsored by 11 multinational companies who pay almost $1 billion for worldwide marketing rights to summer and winter Games over a four-year cycle.
Unlike at other major sports events, sponsors are not allowed to advertise their brands around the perimeter of Olympic venues.
Companies say their Olympic marketing has a more subtle value. They argue that the Games provide an international showcase for their expertise and products, broadening their appeal to consumers and business partners. They also build loyalty among staff who like to be involved in Olympic projects and provide a testbed for new technologies.
* COCA-COLA (Category: Non-Alcoholic Beverages)
— The U.S. soft drinks company has been sponsoring the Olympics since the Amsterdam Games of 1928 and has already extended its agreement to take it to 2020.
— Swimming five-times gold medallist and later Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller was the first Olympian to endorse Coca-Cola in 1934.
— Critics question the role of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s as backers of the Games because of concerns over obesity. However, International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge, has defended their involvement after initially appearing to question it.
* ACER (Computing equipment)
— The Taiwan-based company is supporting the summer Games for the first time after signing up to sponsor the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and London 2012. The group comprises its eponymous Acer brand plus Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines after a series of mergers in recent years. The only sponsor yet to commit to the next four-year cycle.
* ATOS (Information technology)
— French company Atos joined the ranks of leading global sponsors in 2001 when it was known as Schlumberger Sema. It has the responsibility for pulling together all the technology strands from a centre based in London’s Canary Wharf financial district.
— It must ensure that results reach the world’s media in real time and expects to handle 30 percent more data than in the 2008 Beijing games, reflecting the growing appetite for content on mobile devices. Its current deal with the IOC runs until Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
* DOW CHEMICAL (Official Chemistry company)
— Dow is sponsoring an Olympics for the first time and its chastening experience shows the risks that come with association with such a high profile event. Environmental campaigners have protested at the involvement of Dow, tracing a link back to a deadly 1984 gas link in Bhopal, India. The leak occurred at a pesticide factory owned by a subsidiary of Union Carbide, which sold the facility in 1994. Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001.
— Anger was fuelled when Dow agreed to pay an additional seven million pounds ($10.9 million) to fund a decorative fabric wrap around the Olympic Stadium in London. The wrap carries no branding. Dow has signed up to sponsor the Games to 2020.
* GENERAL ELECTRIC (Energy Generation and Distribution, Healthcare, Lighting, Aircraft Engines, Rail Transportation, Water Treatment, Equipment & Transportation Management)
— General Electric’s wide range of services reflects the diversity of the largest U.S. conglomerate. Its systems are helping to light the Olympic stadium, provide power for the athletes village and check out their stresses and strains in the medical centre.
— It sold a 51 percent stake in U.S. Olympic broadcaster NBC Universal to Comcast Corp in 2011. Another sponsor with a deal taking it to 2020.
* MCDONALD’S CORP (Retail food services)
— McDonald’s has been an Olympic sponsor since Montreal in 1976. It had first become involved eight years earlier when it flew burgers to U.S. athletes competing in the Winter Games in Grenoble who were pining for familiar food.
— The company will have four restaurants in the Olympic Park in east London which it claims to be its biggest and busiest in the world. Like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s has become a target for the health lobby. It renewed its sponsorship this year for a further eight years.
* OMEGA (Time keeping)
— Part of Switzerland’s Swatch Group - the world’s largest manufacturer of watches. The group has been involved in almost all of the Games since 1932 and has a high profile role that is central to the functioning of the Games, calculating the world records that will be part of the story of London 2012. Signed up until 2020.
* PANASONIC (Audio/TV/video equipment)
— The action at the Games will be captured and relayed for billions of TV viewers by video equipment supplied by Japan’s Panasonic. The company also provides audio systems and big screens for fans at events.
— A global sponsor since 1987, the company is seeking to turn itself around. It has lost more than $15 billion over the past four years and is shifting its focus from TV towards white goods and solar panels. On board as a sponsor until 2016.
* PROCTER & GAMBLE (Personal care and household products)
— P&G signed up for a five-Games deal in 2010. Its partnership with the IOC is the first covering multiple brands under one sponsorship. The company says the Olympics give it a chance to reach a broader audience and more women than would be the case with sponsorship of other sports.
— The global Olympic deal came on the back of sponsorship of the U.S. team at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games which the company, whose brands include Gillette and Duracell, said was worth an additional $100 million in sales.
* SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS (Wireless communications)
— South Korea’s Samsung has been a global supporter of the Olympics for 15 years and is committed until 2016. The company is using the excitement around the Games to help drive sales of its Galaxy SIII smartphone after displacing Nokia as the world’s largest cellphone maker. Former England soccer captain David Beckham, who has not been selected for the British Olympic squad, features heavily in its promotional activities.
* VISA (Payment services)
— Another long-standing sponsor since the 1980s and signed up for a further eight years. Fans will have to use Visa if they want to pay for items by card at Olympic venues and they also needed a card to buy tickets for events online in the first place. The company plans to work with fellow sponsor Samsung to trial payments using smartphone at London 2012. ($1 = 0.6403 British pounds) (Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by John Mehaffey)