The Olympic Sponsor – Biggest Winners and Biggest Losers

Monday, August 25, 2008 3:13

Since the games are now over, I thought it would be interesting to debate which of the Olympic sponsors came away with gold and which pulled a hamstring.

It is an important question, as Shaun Rein has pointed out on a couple of occasions, and for me it has been interesting process not only watching the games but keeping Shaun’s comments in the back of my head as I watch the games.

So, were I a judge, and I were judging who made out the best through these Olympics I would awarded the following metals:

Gold to Lenovo
Lenovo’s sponsorship in the Beijing Games made perhaps the most sense of any of the brands I saw on the logo board as it will potentially provide them with the greatest opportunity for accessing the global market. Sure, China’s market for them is important as it is their home base, but the games gave them a chance to get out from under IBM’s logo and rebrand themselves on a global scale.

The article Olympic Games Generate Historic Impact on Lenovo Brand provides more insights.

Silver to  GE
As I mentioned in previous write-ups on the Olympics, the industrial sponsors have fared the best so far as they have been able to leverage the donations from day 1.

Perhaps the largest revenue windfall winner of all the sponsors, GE’s Cleantech products were the highlight of the green Olympics, and have already booked higher sales in other markets as a result.

Bronze to Li Ning
While not an official sponsor of the Olympics, Li Ning’s run around the Bird Nest roof gives him the bronze medal.  This is another example of a Chinese brand that was looking for way to get in front of the billions of global viewers, and in a manner more effective than sponsoring the CCTV news anchors, Li Ning accomplished that.

As for the losers, or at least those whose measurable returns will be questionable, I have put together the following thoughts on a few.

1) McDonald’s and Coke – Two of the strongest brands in the world, these two firms have penetrated further than any other global firm around, Coke perhaps further than McDonald’s… and the measurable gain for them is going to be marginal at best.

Where I think their sponsorship makes business sense though is in a defensive manner as for each of these firms 100m USD is not a large sum of money when you look at their global marketing budgets over a 4 year period, and perhaps more importantly, this money is essentially preventing their competitors from growing in markets that they have dominant positions in .

2) Sinopec and CNPC – Having 2 of the 3 largest oil firms as Olympic sponsors smacks the “green”Olympics in the face, but aside from that, any gains in revenue from supplying oil to the Olympics are surely being wiped out by the NDRCs pricing policy that is killing them.  Clearly a political sponsorship that did not bring the bacon home.

3) State Grid – Just not sure where the benefit would be from this unless they are somehow ramping up a services platform for other countries holding major events.  Certainly their recent loses from power shortages also show that political sponsorships don’t always come through.

Anyone have other ideas on which sponsors made their money back from the games?

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