A Sponsor’s Perspective
The Coca-Cola Company has been continuously associated with the Olympic Games since 1928, longer than any other corporate partner of the Games. If a host city wants to learn a thing or two about how sponsors work within the Games context, they need look no further than the world’s premier non-alcoholic beverage company .
Thierry Borra, Director of Olympic Games Management for Coca-Cola, is in Sochi, Russia, this week for the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s debrief of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He is here along with representatives of other Olympic TOP sponsors Acer, Atos Origin, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung and Visa, to transfer the knowledge they gained at the most recent Olympic Winter Games, this February in Vancouver, to future host cities of the Olympic Games.
On the sidelines of the four days of sessions and workshops, Borra said he was pleased with the work done in Vancouver 2010, in particular in terms of business and sustainability.
“The Games helped us to create a momentum for our business in Canada and gave us a unique opportunity to improve both our business results as well as our reputation. It also allowed us to raise the bar on our sustainability agenda, including a bold and comprehensive approach to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said. That approach included the use of hybrid vehicles, eco-friendly coolers, Plant PET bottles, and the collection and compaction of bottles on site at every venue to be recycled into a sports court left as a legacy to the city of Vancouver.
“We leverage the Games as a window to showcase what we’re doing in our daily business, to inspire consumers as well as our employees,” Borra added.
The right approach
Borra said the debrief is a useful tool with which to share experiences and learning, build or reinforce relationships with future host cities, and get to work early on strategies for the Games.
“The debrief is the right approach,” Borra said. “The key challenge is to keep the debrief alive and continue to share our learning and experiences in greater detail so the mutual benefits are greater for all.”
Collaboration and integration
At the current debrief, Borra said the two keywords that have emerged with regard to how to produce a successful Games for all stakeholders are “collaboration” and “integration”.
“The Games are complex, there are so many stakeholders with different objectives, and as things get more and more sophisticated there is a real need to have as much transfer of knowledge as possible, not just in one go but even on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Home away from home
As part of Coca-Cola’s efforts to get an early start on their own collaboration and integration with the organisers of Sochi 2014, the company has started to establish an Olympic Games project team in Moscow, which includes a general manager with strong local experience and a deputy general manager from Vancouver with countless hours of hands-on, Games-time experience.
Asked whether bringing the team to Russia four years from the start of the Sochi Games was premature, Borra quickly rejected the suggestion.
“In some ways you could say it is too late,” he said. “You need to start planning for legacies, what you will leave behind after the Games, early on. It is never too early to get started.”
From an 82-year supporter of the Olympic Games, one that was around long before the Olympic debrief was first introduced by the IOC after the Sydney 2000 Games, this is very good advice indeed for future hosts of the Games.