The olympic brand and olympic sponsorship

Por: Benoit Seguin e Holger Preuss.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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In 1999 the IOC commissioned a global brand assessment study to determine which attributes consumers associated most with the Olympic Insignia [1]. It was found that the strongest brand attributes transcended "sports" and featured the Olympic values. The Olympics were seen as "a peaceful and festive forum for cultural exchange and fair play" with "ideals of equality, tradition, honour and excellence". The brand assessment analysis led to the creation of a "benefit pyramid" built on level of functional and emotional equities. As a result, it was suggested that partners aligned their own brands with one of four positioning options: "Hope - Dreams/Inspiration - Friendship and Fair Play - Joy in Effort". The universal appeal of such values was believed to provide partners with a powerful marketing advantage [1]


The purpose of this study was to examine if Olympic partners made use of the findings of the IOC’s global brand study and aligned their brands with one of the four proposed options. Olympic partners were contacted in order to assess their perceptions of Olympic brand. In addition, tape recording of prime time TV coverage in 10 different countries during the Olympic Games of Sydney 2000 and Salt Lake City 2002 was undertaken. All commercials were reviewed and analyzed using the criteria determined by the IOC brand study.


TOP sponsors strongly agreed that the biggest strength associated with the Olympic Movement was the "brand" and the values associated with the brand. It was felt that no other sport properties around the world shared those values, thus providing a point of differentiation for them. The analysis of the recording from Sydney and Salt Lake City suggested that functional and emotional equities of the Olympic brand were being used by partners in one of the four positioning suggested. It was also found that brand attributes such as "peace" remained mostly untouched by corporations. It is argued that such "untouched" attributes be communicated by the IOC using an integrated public relations program. The opportunity to reach huge audiences trough broadcast partners worldwide may contribute in keeping the "non-commercialized" mystique associated with the Olympic Games. TOP partners suggested that such "brand building" exercise would provide additional value.

Discussion / Conclusion

It is essential for the future of the Olympics to maintain, protect and build on the core "values" strongly identified with Olympic brand. Key attributes such as festive, multi cultural, friendship, fair play and celebration provides a "mystique" that is closely associated with the event. This form of "purity" during the Games,free from commercial interests through the clean venue policy, is of great importance. In fact, the values of Olympic brand provide a "point of differentiation" for corporations that are partnering with the Olympic Movement given them "real value" [3]. A strong brand will ensure the level of economic independency needed to stage the best Games in the future.



  • International Olympic Committee (June, 2001). Working with Olympic Brand. Sponsor workshop, Athens.
  • Seguin, B. (2003) Olympic Games and Marketing Strategies: Relationships between stakeholders. Unpublished doctorate thesis
  • Preuss, H. (2000) Economics of the Olympic Games. Staging the Games 1972-2000. Sydney



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