Canada companies begin race for Olympic exposure

VANCOUVER: The city may have just won the right to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, but Canadian marketers are already jockeying for the Games? coveted sponsorship opportunities.

VANCOUVER: The city may have just won the right to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, but Canadian marketers are already jockeying for the Games? coveted sponsorship opportunities.

Roughly 250 Canadian companies sponsored Vancouver?s bid, but far fewer may end up sponsoring the actual Games. ?It could be less depending on the number of high-level sponsorships sold,? said Meeta Soni, director of marketing for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation. ?Sponsorships will begin to be sold in 2004. That might sound far away, but it?s just around the corner.?

Companies hungry for Olympic exposure are now deploying PR messages. Telecom provider Telus, which gave $3 million to the bid, issued a release praising the Vancouver victory. Telus also wants to be a sponsor, which is why the company is sponsoring an athlete development program, said Chris Carty, EVP of corporate strategy and CMO.

Coca-Cola Canada, guaranteed to have a major presence at the Games because its corporate parent is a sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, has already launched an Olympic-themed promotion. It sent out 40,000 cases of commemorative Coke Classic cans to British Columbia with the message ?Congratulations Vancouver? encased in a maple leaf.

?We wanted to give [the public] an indication that this is just the start of our involvement with the Olympics in Vancouver,? said Kari Kerr, acting director of corporate communications at Coca-Cola Canada.

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