By Barry Janoff
February 6, 2014: Companies pay millions of dollars to become exclusive partners of either or both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The goal: To get your brand in front of millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide before and during the Olympic Games, and to be able to activate with official IOC and/or USOC sanction.
But is it paying off?
On the eve of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, it appears that McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Visa have made it clear to consumers that they are official IOC partners. For the others, not so much, according to research and consulting company YouGov, Palo Alto, Calif.
In a just-released study, when asked which brands they thought were official sponsors of the 2014 Winter Olympics, McDonald's came out on top among Americans with 32% identifying the brand as an official sponsor of the event. Coca-Cola (29%) and Visa (26%) also had significant recognition as official sponsors.
More good news for those three companies: Among those surveyed who said they "take an interest in the Winter Olympics," 39% identified McDonald's as an official sponsor, 37% identified Coca-Cola, and 33% named Visa as an official sponsors.
McDonald's became an official sponsor of the Olympic Games in 1976. Visa International has been a Worldwide Olympic Partner since 1986, Coca Cola became a charter member of the TOP Program in 1986 but has been aligned with the Games since 1928.
Among other IOC TOP partners listed in the survey: Atos was named by 1%, Dow Chemical by 2%, General Electric by 8%, Panasonic by 6%, Procter & Gamble by 10% and Samsung by 9%. Omega was not named by anyone who took the YouGov survey.
Most of the IOC's partners are signed through the 2020 Games. Panasonic has just extend through 2024.
Concurrently, while Pepsi is not an official IOC or USOC partner, 21% of those surveyed believed the brand was officially aligned with the Sochi Olympics and 27% thought that Pepsi was an official sponsor. Red Bull was named by 17% even though the brand is not officially aligned with the Olympic committees.
Nike, an official USOC team outfitter, was identified as sponsor by 21% overall and 27% of those who stated they were interested in the games. Rival adidas, also not an official IOC partner, was named by 10%.
Official USOC partners include 24 Hour Fitness, Adecco, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), AT&T, BMW of America, BP, Chobani, Citi, Deloitte, DeVry University, The Hartford, Highmark, Hilton, JetSet, Kellogg's, Liberty Mutual, Oakley, Smucker's, Ameritrade, United and USG.
Regarding the events themselves, 67% of those surveyed plan to watch "at least a little," 20% expect to watch a lot. According to YouGov, 49% of of those surveyed claim to not be interested in this year's Winter Olympics, but 35% of those who lacked interest were still expecting to watch a little of the event.
The most highly anticipated events: figure skating with (55%), ski jumping (47%) and speed skating (41%).
Regarding negative issues that have impacted the build-up to the Games, such as threats of terrorism, human rights issues and security, 11% of those surveyed are not watching this year's Winter Olympics due to Russian political events and/or policies.
AT&T issued a statement this week condemning Russia's antigay policy.
"We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere," AT&T posted on its Web site.
This follows a YouGov survey released last week which indicated that only 30% have either a great deal of confidence or some confidence that the Sochi Olympics will be safe from terrorism, while 59% have either a little confidence or no confidence. The remaining people of those surveyed said they didn't know.
Olympic events begin tonight (Feb. 6), with the official Opening Ceremony scheduled for Feb. 7. the Games run through Feb. 23.
YouGov said the survey online was conducted among 1,188 adults (age 18+) between Jan. 24-27.
Back to Sochi 2014
Back to Home Page