Are the Winter Olympics getting frozen out? Not exactly, but drumming up advertising and sponsorship dollars isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here’s how Andrew Benett, the global chief strategy officer of Euro RSCG, described what’s happening: “You have a confluence of many factors happening here. One, winter versus summer. Two, a hangover from Beijing. And three, the economic times.”
Of those, the economic situation is the one that’s drawing away most of the money. Bank of America, General Motors, and Home Depot are just some of the big names that have dropped their sponsorship of the U.S. team.
But experts we spoke to also pointed to some broader problems facing the Winter Games. For one thing, behind the scenes, they say the IOC and USOC haven’t always been accommodating with the advertising community. For another, younger audiences (and thus advertisers) just aren’t that into some of the classic winter sports. It’s not that they don’t want to see athletes competing on the mountain — they would just prefer to watch them competing in newer, thrill sports like those of the X Games.
So, while the ugly economy — and Beijing hangover — may only be temporary problems, there are longer terms issues that must be tackled. And the stakes are high. Recall the International Olympic Committee, alone raises an estimated $4.5 billion from the combined sponsorship and global TV rights deals for every four-year period.
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