May 20 - The Olympic Games are one of the most effective international marketing platforms in the world, reaching billions of people in over 200 countries and territories.
Here are facts about the Beijing Games’ top 12 global sponsors, which have marketing rights to use the Olympics logo worldwide as members of “The Olympic Partner Program” (TOP).
* Atos Origin (France): Information Technology.
— French IT company Atos Origin is building the Olympics computer network. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) does not release details on how much sponsors pay, but Atos Origin is believed to have a combined cash and services payment deal.
* Coca-Cola: Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
— Coca-Cola has clocked up 80 years of continuous Olympic sponsorship and backed the torch relay since 1996. On April 16, about 100 pro-Tibet activists protested outside its annual meeting. A company statement expressed “deep concern for the situation on the ground in Tibet,” but said Coke believes “the Olympics are a force for good”.
* General Electric: Various products and services.
— General Electric will provide power, lighting and security such as alarm systems, and ultrasound for doctors to treat athletes. Along with Vivendi, it owns NBC Universal, which has exclusive U.S. TV broadcast rights. GE won the best ‘grade’ awarded to Games sponsors by U.S. advocacy group Dream for Darfur in November 2007; a C-plus, largely for making contact with the IOC over Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region.
* Manulife: Life insurance/annuities.
— Canada’s Manulife Financial Corp, the world’s fifth-largest life insurer, became a global sponsor after merging with subsidiary John Hancock insurance in spring of 2004.
* Johnson & Johnson: Healthcare products.
— U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson is sponsoring the Games for the first time as a global partner. It will supply consumer, pharmaceutical and other healthcare products.
* Kodak: Film, photographics and imaging.
— In Beijing, Eastman Kodak Co will run an imaging centre for photojournalists, a diagnostic centre to treat athletes’ injuries, and provide thousands of Olympic identification badges. A sponsor since the first modern Games in Athens in 1896, the company has said it will end its long-running association after Beijing to redirect its marketing strategy.
* Lenovo Group: Computing equipment.
— China’s top PC maker Lenovo is the only Chinese company that is a global partner. It aims to showcase technological prowess in computer products and build its brand globally. Lenovo designed the high-tech Olympic torch, constructed to burn brightly even on Mount Everest.
* McDonald’s: Retail food services.
— Fast food giant McDonald’s Corp is building four Olympics outlets in Beijing to be staffed by 1,300 of its best personnel from around the world. The official restaurant for the last seven Games, it has been a sponsor since 1976. In 1968 it airlifted hamburgers to U.S. athletes at the Winter Games in Grenoble, France. On Tibet, it said political issues need to be resolved by governments and global institutions such as the United Nations.
* Omega: Time pieces and timing systems.
— Omega, owned by Switzerland’s Swatch Group, has supplied time pieces and timing services for all but three Games since 1932. U.S. actor George Clooney, who advertises Omega watches and has been outspoken over China’s role in Sudan’s Darfur region, has said he has raised the issue with Omega.
* Panasonic: Audio/TV/Video Equipment.
— Osaka-based Panasonic, a global Olympics partner since 1988, will make Beijing the first Games to be produced and broadcast in high-definition (HD) television, and is also installing 2,000 surveillance cameras at venues. On Tibet, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, maker of the Panasonic brand, has said it would not comment “on political issues concerning any government”.
* Samsung Electronics: Wireless Communication Equipment.
— South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has been an Olympic TOP sponsor since 1997. On Tibet, it said the Games should not be a focus for demonstrations “and we hope that all people attending the Games recognize the importance of this”.
* Visa: Consumer Payment Systems (credit cards, etc.)
— Credit card network Visa Inc, issuer of more than 1.4 billion cards, has been the official payment service at the last 11 Olympics, and a top-tier sponsor since 1986.
** A further 11 China sponsors have rights to use the Olympic logo in China: China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile carrier, Bank of China, the country’s largest foreign exchange bank, and Sinopec Corp, Asia’s top refiner, are all country sponsors for the Beijing Games.
Sources: Reuters, Company websites, official website of the Olympic Movement (here)
(Compiled by Gillian Murdoch, Singapore Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Jerry Norton and Sara Ledwith)
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