Of all the records broken at this summer's 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, its tally of licensing revenues may be the most astonishing.
Corporate sponsorship of what is being billed as the Centennial Olympics will provide about $628 million, approximately 40% of the money needed to put on the Atlanta games. Just 12 years ago in Los Angeles, Olympic organizers cheered as some 628 sponsors chipped in $4.18 million.
For Worldwide Sponsors such as Kodak, Coca-Cola and Time Inc., and Centennial Partners such as Anheuser-Busch, Sara Lee and General Mills, the marketing investment can be huge. They are going for the gold with programs involving entire product lines, special Olympic packaging and products, promotions, contests and more.
Their activities are already evident on store shelves, and more will be appearing daily as the games begin in Atlanta July 19 and run until Aug. 4. In-store concentration is quite naturally highest in the Atlanta area, but many products are being distributed and promoted nationally.
"It's hard to imagine a more exciting relationship than the one we have formed with the 1996 Olympic Games," said Stephen W. Sanger, chairman and chief executive officer of General Mills, Minneapolis.
"Given Wheaties' sports heritage, the all-family appeal of Cheerios, the health benefits of Yoplait yogurt and Nature Valley Granola Bars, and our ongoing emphasis on product excellence, sponsorship of the 1996 games is the perfect showcase for our brands."
Sara Lee Corp., Chicago, manufacturer and marketer of Champion, Hanes, L'eggs, Coach, Sara Lee Meats and Hillshire Farm Deli Select, is another Centennial Partner, with a total Olympic investment exceeding $100 million.
"Certainly the prestige of Olympic sponsorship was attractive to Sara Lee Corp.," said Sara Lee Chairman and CEO John Bryan, "but the deal still had to make sense in terms of return on investment."
Bryan predicts the company's Olympic efforts could yield as much as $500 million in added retail sales by the end of 1996.
Having paid handsomely to license the rights to use the 1996 Olympic Games and 1996 U.S. Olympic team names and logos, sponsors and partners are seeking maximum leverage from the relationship. Many have created new products or special-edition packages just for the games.
General Mills has several limited-edition Olympic products in stores now. Team USA Cheerios is a special blend of golden Corn Cheerios, silver Frosted Cheerios and bronze Oat Cheerios, representing the colors of the Olympic medals. It is packaged in a specially designed box with the Cheerios name in gold foil with a red, white and blue background and offered for a limited time only.
Budweiser, a longtime Olympic sponsor and product of Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, is midway through a six-month Grab the Gold retail promotion.
Said August A. Busch IV, vice president of brand management at Anheuser-Busch: "We want Budweiser to be part of how America, our international visitors and the entire world get into the spirit of the Olympic Games, enjoy the games and remember them once they have concluded."
Limited-edition packaging plays a pivotal role in the Budweiser sponsorship of the 1996 Olympic Games. Budweiser actually began its Olympic Games packaging last December with the issuing of cans and bottles featuring the USA five rings and new vertical graphics.
Sara Lee has linked all its product lines with the Olympics. Its Meat Group, which includes Hygrade/Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, Kahn's, Bryan Foods and Jimmy Dean, among others, is the official packaged meat sponsor.
Both the Sara Lee Meat Group and General Mills, along with other sponsors, will provide food to 15,000 athletes, 60,000 volunteers and 5,500 coaches and officials during the Olympics. In addition, most sponsors have exclusive rights to sell their brands to the estimated 2 million attendees and 20,000 media representatives at concessions during the games.
Sports Illustrated is the official publishing sponsor for the games, along with sister publications Sports Illustrated for Kids, Time International and Southern Living magazines. In addition to the official 200-page Olympic program, SI will publish three weekly Olympic issues, a special Olympic preview issue and a commemorative issue following the games. SI will also publish a daily magazine throughout the 17 days of the Olympic Games.
Kodak celebrates its Centennial-year sponsorship with a host of Olympic-oriented products, premiums and promotions. Its Kodak Cameo motor EX special edition 35-mm camera for the games is imprinted with the official logo of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.
Packets of Kodak Olympic Moments Collector Cards are offered free inside specially marked two-roll packages of Kodak Gold film. Each card features an "action photo" of an Olympic hero on the front, and a profile of the athlete on the back. Atlanta's own Coca-Cola, which has been a sponsor of the Olympic Games for more than 67 years, is offering $81 million in prizes and $1.5 billion in available discounts in its Red Hot Olympic Summer sweepstakes.
One out of three consumers will win prizes and discounts by finding instant-win messages under the red caps of specially marked bottles. Additionally, all can multipacks include coupons from Olympic sponsors Mattel, Sports Illustrated, Motorola and Avon.
Suntory Water Group's Crystal Springs brand, in a bold marketing move, secured the position of official bottled water under license from the 1996 games. The deal means Crystal Springs will be the only brand of water provided to Olympic athletes and sold at all 1996 Olympic Games venues and U.S. Olympic training centers.
For the past few months, Crystal Springs has offered an under-the-cap sweepstakes with winners receiving a three-day Olympic Games trip or scores of official Olympic Games merchandise items.