SBD/8/Sports Industrialists

TALKING OLYMPIC SPONSORSHIPS WITH ACOP

     With nearly 20 months to go before the start of the 25th
Olympiad, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY spoke with Chris Weldon, VP
of Marketing for ACOP.  ACOP is the joint venture marketing arm
between ACOG and the USOC.  Weldon addressed ambush marketing,
new sponsorship categories and upcoming announcements.  Weldon
says to expect another major sponsorship announcement within the
"next week or so."
     THE DAILY:  What are some of the strategies you are using to
prevent ambush marketing?
     WELDON:  It's a two-prong strategy.  The first and most
obvious has to do with the legal protection that we enjoy by
virtue of the Amateur Act, and the special protection that
Olympic entities have to protect their trademarks and
terminology.  So we're being very vigorous in assuring that non-
sponsors and non-licensees do not use Olympic symbols and
terminology to try to imply an association with the Olympic games
or Olympic team when one does not exist.  The second side has to
do with education.  Education of the public, as well as education
of the marketing and advertising community and trade press -- to
help those groups understand what ambush marketing is, why it is
detrimental to the Olympic effort in this country, and in
particular why it is detrimental to the athletes.
     THE DAILY:  Is there a line between where ACOP or the
sponsor is responsible to prevent ambush marketing?  For example:
If a top national TV sponsor chooses not to buy time on
affiliates owned and operated by NBC.
     WELDON:  From time to time, companies who are sponsors have
chosen not to buy one type of media or another and have been
ambushed.  We don't really look at it in terms of a line between
where our responsibility stops and theirs starts, or vice-versa.
All our relationships with sponsors are viewed as partnership
relationships, and so we feel it is incumbent on us -- and on
them -- to work diligently all the way through the relationship
to try to protect their investment and insulate ambush
activities.  We work with them, literally on a daily basis, to
try to make sure that, number one, they are taking advantage of
as many media opportunities as possible to communicate what their
relationship with us is.  But at the same time, we recognize that
it is impossible for any sponsor/company to foreclose every media
opportunity for its competitors.  We need to work together to
make sure that the communications that are made through those
particular media channels that are still open are accurate and do
not try imply an association where one doesn't exist.
     THE DAILY:  Will there be an effort with NBC to prevent the
sale of ad time to rivals of Olympic sponsors?
     WELDON:  First of all, we make sure that it's our sponsors
who have the first opportunity to buy exclusivity, or failing
that, as much of the time in their category as possible.  We
wouldn't presume to tell NBC that if our sponsor chose not to buy
exclusivity in its category, that NBC can't then turn around and
sell some of that time to a sponsor.  What we will then
concentrate on is an attempt to assure that the message delivered
by the competitor is not one that implies some association
between the [U.S. Olympic] team, the Games and that advertiser.
     THE DAILY:  Give us an update on sponsorships sold.
     WELDON:  We've announced 23 sponsors now.  Seventeen of
those companies are either the worldwide top sponsors or members
of our highest national program, which we call the "partner
program."  The other six get the level of sponsorship rights as
commensurate with their investment in the games.
     THE DAILY:  What major categories are still open?
     WELDON:  One that has received a great deal of coverage that
we haven't closed yet is the automotive category and we're still
working hard on that.  No automotive deal has been consummated
yet. ... Over and above that, basically every other category is
still open, so long as it doesn't violate the exclusivity of a
signed sponsor.  And we still have several categories that will
be at significant levels.
     THE DAILY:  Are you on schedule with sponsorships?
     WELDON:  Number one, look at the size of the investment
we're asking; and two, look at the complexity of these
arrangements which stem in large part due to the size of the
investment.  It takes a good bit of time to come to terms on the
exact specifications of each of these deals. ... I feel very good
about where we are, and I think everybody's pleased with our
progress to date and feels very comfortable that the funding that
is necessary will all transpire. ... I think the next six months
is very critical.  That will get us pretty close to one-year-out.
While we will not have finished sponsorship sales, we'll have a
pretty good idea of 90 plus percent of who the participants are
going to be.
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