NEW YORK: As the Olympic Games in Torino near, corporate sponsors are reaching the finish line of PR and marketing efforts.
Michael Sherman, VP of corporate communications, for Top Olympic Program (TOP) sponsor Visa International, said the company began marketing early, with an international art contest for children in July 2005 and an online skills competition in October 2005, where contestants vie for prestige and the opportunity to see the Olympics live. Overall, Visa has about 45 separate Olympic-related programs.
Chevrolet, which is an official sponsor of the US Olympic Team, and has been an advertiser during the Olympics for several years, held raffles for Torino tickets in January and the GM division used product placement in a January show of NBC's Las Vegas, when it also aired a two-minute ad that featured Olympians and the Chevrolet Tahoe.
"Our strategy for the Olympics was to get out to the marketplace early in order to break through the competitive sponsorship [marketers'] messages," said Bridget McCarville, Chevrolet's advertising and promotion manager.
Chevrolet's message is "America's brand supports America's best," while Visa is highlighting its dedication to Olympians before and after they compete.
Philipp Bodzenta, the director of global marketing communications for TOP sponsor Coca-Cola, said its Olympic marketing platform is "Live Olympic", where it highlights the Olympic spirit in daily lives.
"It's about making life a little bit better," said Bodzenta. "Not everyone has to be an Olympic athlete to [follow] the Olympic spirit of fairness and teamwork."
In Torino, Coca-Cola employees will supply portable benches at venues for consumers to sit on when they're lining up at refreshment booths.
Sherman said that Visa - and other sponsors - works closely with the IOC, which must approve programs bearing the Olympic seal of approval. Visa also works with other sponsors, partnering with Lenovo and Panasonic for its online game and with Coca-Cola for its pre-paid cards.