According to IOC President Jacques Rogge, the importance of the 11 global companies who make up The Olympic Partners (TOP) programme - Coca-Cola, Acer, Atos, DOW, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, Visa - cannot be underestimated.
“Without the support of the business community, without its technology, expertise, people, services, products, telecommunications, its financing – the Olympic Games could not and cannot happen,” says Rogge. “Without this support, the athletes cannot compete and achieve their very best in the world’s greatest sporting event.”
The TOP programme was introduced in 1985 and has since provided a major source of revenue for the Olympic Movement. This income is distributed directly to each of the 204 National Olympic Committees around the world, who use it to develop and support their athletes, enabling them to send a team to the Games. The programme has proven essential to the IOC’s vision of “universality” with athletes competing at the Olympic Games from around the world.
But the TOP programme is about more than just money. The Worldwide Olympic Partners also play an integral role in the actual staging of the Games themselves, contributing products, services and expertise. It is this operational support that makes the Partners so valuable to the Games, and the Olympic Movement as a whole, according to Gerhard Heiberg, Chairman of the IOC Marketing Commission.
“Without our sponsors, the Olympic Games would not be what they are today,” he says. “The Partners’ support allows more athletes from more countries to compete in the Games, and they deliver the services and resources that are the driving force of the Olympic Movement.”
Unlike other sports sponsorship agreements, the Partners are not able to advertise their association in the Olympic stadia due to the IOC’s “clean venue” policy, which ensures that no corporate branding is visible during the Games. The Partners must therefore come up with innovative ways to leverage their association with the Games, which Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television & Marketing Services, believes is one of the reasons that makes Olympic sponsorship so valued.
“The sheer variety and creativity of the initiatives employed by our partners is staggering,” he says. “You can’t be an Olympic sponsor by being passive. It is always a dynamic process and that dynamism has kept the Games on the leading edge of marketing.”
As the start of the Games draws closer, one thing is clear – London 2012 will demonstrate once again the importance of the Worldwide Olympic Partners.
For more information on the 11 Worldwide Olympic Partners please read the Media Guide here.