Who has a stake in the games? Some big name sponsors for sure. Eleven of the 2012 Olympic Game sponsors belong to the TOP Program.Started in 1986 with just a handful of companies, TOP (for "The Olympic Partner") has grown into a competitive and exclusive group of corporations.
There are several levels of Olympic sponsorship, but the TOP Program firms will have the greatest exposure — and for the greatest cost. Together they have paid $957 million to the International Olympic Committee, not only for international brand exposure over the course of the 19 days, but also for exclusivity in providing services and products to the Olympic community.
From food to chemicals to electronics and computing, here’s a look at these eleven multinational corporations that signed big money contracts with the International Olympic Committee to provide services for the Olympic Games.
So, who are the major global sponsors of the Olympics? Click ahead to find out.
By Erin Barry & Andrew Eagan
Posted 19 July 2012
McDonald's has been an Olympic sponsor since 1976 and their current agreement extends their sponsorship through 2020. Even before they were a sponsor McDonald's was supporting Olympic athletes by flying food to the athletes at the 1968 games in Grenoble, France. This year four temporary McDonald's restaurants have been built throughout Olympic Park staffed by over 2000 people ready to serve the athletes, coaches, spectators, for all 19 days of the games.
Also, if any other food venue wants to serve fries they might be out of luck. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games sent out a memo stating that due to McDonald’s sponsorship, other restaurants are not allowed to serve fries anywhere within the Olympic Park. There is one exception however – restaurants may offer chips as long as they are served with fish.
Visa has sponsored the Olympics since 1986 and is signed up through 2020. Being the official payment-services provider means that fans who plan on using credit will need to use a Visa. This includes official London 2012 online outlets as well as any purchase within the Olympic venues. Visa has teamed up with fellow sponsor Samsung in a strategic alliance that will enable Visa and Samsung sponsored athletes to make mobile payments with its latest payment technology.
Omega, a division of Switzerland’s Swatch Group, first served as the official timekeeper of the games during the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. The company became a TOP sponsor in 2004 and is currently signed through 2020. As the timekeeper and data handler for London 2012, Omega will provide scoreboards, clocks, and electronic timing systems for the various events. This year Omega will debut the Quantum Timer, a new technology that measures to one millionth of a second. This is 100 times greater resolution than previous devices.
The Taiwanese IT firm Acer is a relatively new TOP sponsor having signed on 2009 for the 2010 Vancouver Games as well as the 2012 London Games. On an infrastructure level, Acer is providing computing logistics for the Olympics over the various venues. That includes computing services at the Olympic Technology Operations Center, The Main Media Center, the Olympic Village for the athletes, and other essential offices. The company is the only sponsor who has not committed to the next four year cycle.
Coca Cola has been a sponsor of the Olympic Games since the Amsterdam Games of 1928; the longest involvement of any company. As founding member of the TOP program in 1986, Coca Cola has been the exclusive non-alcoholic beverage provider of the games offering a variety of products from all of its product lines.
This year the company will serve 23 million drinks over an 8-week period. Coca Cola as well as McDonald’s has been criticized by some due to concerns over obesity. Even IOC President Jacques Rogge questioned their involvement during his reelection campaign 4 years ago. However he has since defended their sponsorship.
All the action of the games that fans watch will be captured by equipment made by Japan’s Panasonic. A sponsor since 1987, the company provides TVs, cameras, audio equipment and other necessary electronic devices to provide a clear view of the action for viewers in the stadium and at those watching at home. For the London games, the company reached an agreement with the IOC and Olympic Broadcasting Services to provide equipment and technology to enable the first ever live 3D coverage.
Pictured: The Panasonic 3D Theatre at the Olympic Park in London, England.
Procter & Gamble signed up for a five-game deal in 2010. Its partnership is the first covering multiple brands under one sponsorship. At the London games, the company will provide the P&G Family Home, a place where athletes and their families can relax with beauty, grooming, and laundry services using P&G’s brands. P&G’s Crest and Oral-B will work with the London Organizing Committee to run the official dental clinic, providing screenings, routine dental work, emergency care, and oral products for competitors and coaches.
As an official TOP sponsor since 2005 with a contract going through 2020, General Electric provides infrastructure systems and solutions for the various venues of the games. This includes lighting for the arenas, power systems, and water treatment for the different venues and facilities. In addition, GE provides the medical diagnostic equipment for the athletes, including MRI machines, ultrasounds, and record management systems.
As the recently signed official “chemistry company” of the Olympic Games, Dow provides solutions and consultation about various sustainability initiatives for the Olympic venues. Dow created turf for field hockey games and the exterior wrap of the Olympic stadium.
The group “Drop Dow Now” have opposed Dow's involvement with the Olympics because they link the company to a deadly 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India. The leak occurred at a factory owned by Dow’s subsidiary, Union Carbide. Dow Chemical’s contract with the International Olympic Committee runs through 2020.
Pictured: Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical Company, speaks to the media during a press conference to announce that Dow Chemical Company has become an official Worldwide Olympic Partner.
Atos first joined the TOPS program as sponsor in 2001 as the company SchlumbergerSema, which was acquired by Atos in 2004. As the IT infrastructure provider of the Olympic Games, Atos is tasked with ensuring the data and communications run smoothly during the games. Atos has a team of about 330 on the ground in London to oversee the execution of their systems and the systems of other IT partners. Atos expects to handle 30% more data than Beijing due to the growing demand of mobile device content. Their current sponsor deal runs through 2016.
A worldwide Olympic sponsor since Nagano in 1998, South Korea’s Samsung is committed as a TOP sponsor through 2016. The company will provide its proprietary wireless communication platform and mobile phones to the operational side and to athletes.
Samsung came under fire a few months ago after athletes sued the company over its Olympic Genome Project on Facebook. The app shows how a user is connected to, and what they have in common with, Olympic athletes. Eighteen athletes filed suit, saying the company used their name, photos, signature, voice, or likeness without consent for commercial purposes without paying a license fee and percentage of sales.