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Are Olympic Sponsorships Worth It? Marketing Speaker Bruce Philp
Marketing | July 30, 2012

Are Olympic Sponsorships Worth It? Marketing Speaker Bruce Philp

As marketing speaker Bruce Philp reminds us: it wasn't long ago that the Olympics were the place to get your brand seen. But no longer. In a new piece for Canadian Business, he writes that overexposure, skyrocketing prices, and the evolution of media have made Olympic sponsorship much less valuable than in the past. The Consumer Republic author argues that our changing marketplace, coupled with new media consumption patterns, have turned Olympic sponsorships from an integral opportunity for exposure to little more than a "boardroom vanity." The Olympics, he notes, used to be a "tightly controlled, communal media experience" because television rights restricted fans to watching the Games on one network, in primetime, with the rest of the country. Now, consumers have multiple channels to choose from and can watch what they want, when they want—both on T.V. and online, fragmenting audiences. Yet, as TV audiences continue to fracture, the costs of becoming an Olympic brand sponsor have skyrocketed. Here's Bruce Philp, on the astronomical figures that the Olympic Partner program now pulls in:

From 1988 to 2012, the Olympic Partner program ballooned, seeing a tenfold increase in revenue, from $96 million for the Calgary and Seoul Games, to $957 million for Vancouver and London. It’s now so expensive that Visa, for example, has turned the London venue into a gated community for its payment products, as it tries to make some kind of justification for the program’s massive cost.

The relationship between the consumer and the corporation has fundamentally changed. Instead of being force-fed mass culture, the consumers are now the ones in control—the decision-makers who pick the winners from the losers in our new Consumer Republic. In order to succeed, companies need to function more like young nations than like the corporations of old—nations that share a common sense of purpose, culture and ways of getting things done. For today's consumer, it's not enough to shove your logo in front of their face—you have to do something more.
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