Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

Examining the Marketing Functions of the 2010 Vancouver Games: Reflections on the Development of a Marketing Legacy

Academic journal article Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research

Examining the Marketing Functions of the 2010 Vancouver Games: Reflections on the Development of a Marketing Legacy

Article excerpt


At their conclusion, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games had achieved worldwide attention and acclaim--despite some initial trepidation and consternation (2)--for delivering a most successful, and inspirational, Games experience. In particular, it was well noted and experienced that the Games had united the host country of Canada in a unique and special "outpouring of patriotism" (3) rarely witnessed in the country's history. Aligned with the smooth and tempered functioning of the Games was VANOC. In line with previous assessments of the 2010 Organizing Committee, (4) VANOC continued to receive considerable examination throughout the Games, with much attention focused on the functional and direct legacies of the Olympic operations and experiences. Central to this paper, is a review of VANOC's 'marketing and sponsorship legacy' of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Olympic Sport Sponsorship

The function of corporate sponsorship engagement relative to sport has received considerable attention in the literature over the past decade. In fact, it has become such a prevalent and accepted marketing function that leading sport sponsorship experts have suggested that there has been the 'death of (traditional) advertising' in sport. (5) Understood as the strategic exchange between a sport property and corporate partner, (6) sponsorship undoubtedly plays a central role in the smooth functioning and operation of Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), as much of the 'marketing revenue' from these partnerships offsets the enormous operating budgets of Olympic host Committees.

Of note to understanding Olympic Games sponsorship is the development and distribution of the Olympic marketing programme. Historically, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Games operated with very little revenue sources from a marketing input. As of the 1980s, however, they retained their television rights and revenues that became an important source of funding for the IOC, as well as for the international sport federations (ISFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). In 1985, building on the evidence of strong corporate support of the Olympic movement from the Los Angeles Olympic Games, the IOC created The Olympic Programme (TOP), a global sport sponsorship programme for multinational investment, which effectively offered a exclusive worldwide platform of access to the Olympic Rings during a four year Olympic cycle (i.e. combining both Summer and Winter Olympic Games). Estimates indicate that TOP sponsors pay between $40 and $60 million dollars (EUR) for the exclusive 'Olympic Worldwide Partner' rights. (7) Today, the Olympic Marketing programme has seven distinct objectives (see IOC TOP Sponsors for the Vancouver 2010 Games for further information here).

Proceeds from the TOP programme are divided between OCOGs (approximately two-thirds to the larger Summer Games and one-third to the Winter Games), and the NOCs (80%), and the IOC (20%, which is less than 10% overall). From the NOC portion, it should be noted that half of this revenue goes to the USOC, according to the marketing interest and television rights generated by access to and media profile from the United States market. (8) As the IOC celebrates twenty-five years of the TOP programme in 2010, it continues to be regarded as an industry leader in global sport marketing, generating millions of dollars of revenue and a multitude of essential resources for Olympic member stakeholders and ultimately, promoting sport development and supporting Olympic athletes. (9) TOP sponsors are regarded for providing comprehensive marketing programs and essential goods and ser vices to the overall functioning of the Games (see Table 2, "IOC TOP Sponsors for the Vancouver 2010 Games," for further information).

As a final note here, over the past ten years, considerable academic research has begun to focused on Olympic sponsorship and related marketing dimensions, including examining the elements and influences of multinational corporate investment, the 1992 inclusion of professional athletes, the growth of the Olympic brand and corresponding brand value and protection models, the development of strategic Olympic partnerships, and changing consumer demographics and viewer patterns, all reinforcing the opportunities, yet complexities, of being aligned with the Olympic marketing platform. …

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