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David D'Alessandro, President & COO of TOP Olympic sponsor John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance, said that the IOC must "extend its investigation of irregular bidding practices beyond" Salt Lake City and the 2002 Games, according to Jere Longman of the N.Y. TIMES. D'Alessandro: "If they fail to do that and something else comes up, the rings won't be tarnished, they'll be broken." If the IOC investigates other games, they "will stay ahead of the curve." But D'Alessandro said, "If they attempt to simply line up 12 I.O.C. members and shoot them and think they can go back to Switzerland, they're wrong. ... Boardrooms will shake if this is mishandled. That includes NBC's boardroom" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/13). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Pope, Beatty & Fatsis report that the Salt Lake scandal has prompted some ad execs "to clamor for ad-price concessions" from NBC. D'Alessandro said he would like a "morals clause" inserted in the company's deal "allowing him to renegotiate should further scandals emerge or the IOC bungle its own probe." NBC said it is "still solidly" behind the Games, but the net has "just decided to pull the Olympic rings off its network news shows." On Friday, the net sent a memo to affils telling them that, "until further notice, during network news programming the Olympic rings would be removed from the NBC logo that appears in the corner of TV screens." The rings will remain on-screen during sports and entertainment programming. On the ad front, NBC spokesperson Maria Battaglia said, "There's been absolutely no impact on our Olympic advertising, and we don't expect any." But Starcom Media President Bob Brennan said, "I wouldn't buy it now. I'd wait until the last minute and try and get a better deal" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13). RESEARCH: D'Alessandro said John Hancock will survey consumers to gauge the scandal's impact on the Games. If data shows a turn in public sentiment toward the Games, Hancock "might downplay its Olympic ties" (USA TODAY, 1/13). NEW BRAND CAMPAIGN: AD AGE's Wayne Friedman reports that the IOC is "formulating its most ambitious branding campaign ever, a global effort valued" at $150M to promote the 2000 Summer Games. The IOC's GA-based marketing rep, Meridian Management, will "draw up a list of creative agencies" to "pitch for the campaign." The IOC will also "seek to impose stricter creative standards on Olympic sponsors to avoid consumer perception that the Games are overcommercialized." It wants a "say in the way sponsors incorporate Olympic ideals, such as unity and fair play." Currently, IOC guidelines "mostly are concerned with the size and placement" of the Olympic rings (AD AGE, 1/11).
The IOC has "completed its investigation of bribery charges" involving Salt Lake City's 2002 Olympic bid and "is ready to expel members when the report is released" on January 24, according to Mike Gorrell of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. The AP is reporting that "at least" eight IOC members "are in danger of being expelled when investigation details are released." The SLOC's ethics panel is "not finished with its probe" and no timetable has been announced as to when it will be completed (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 1/13). STEP FORWARD? In Denver, Bruce Finley reports that the IOC report is also expected to include recommendations to change the bidding process for the Games. This had USOC "leaders confident, for the moment, that they are moving beyond a potentially devastating ethical blotch." In addition, the USOC announced that it is going to "increase oversight" of U.S. cities competing for the Games. USOC President Bill Hybl: "It's possible that the USOC would even place a USOC staff member on the staff of the bid committee" (DENVER POST, 1/13). Hybl: "Will future bid cities see more of the USOC? The answer is yes" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13). WALK WITH JUAN: The bribery scandal led ABC's "World News Tonight," with Peter Jennings reporting that it is "seriously undermining the next Winter Olympic Games. ... Every day, the Olympics and some of the people who run them are under attack." UT Gov. Mike Leavitt: "The IOC needs to come to the table here. They need to participate in a bigger way now in ensuring that these Games are successful. ... In every way." ABC's Tom Foreman said the IOC has "shown no inclination to kick in more funding or renegotiate with sponsors" ("World News Tonight," ABC, 1/12). Despite some calls for the resignation of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC Exec VP Anita DeFrantz told USA TODAY's Mike Dodd that Samaranch is "a good president and has done an excellent job for the Olympics. He should and will stay in office until he concludes his mandate in 2001" (USA TODAY, 1/13). IOC Exec VP Dick Pound said the Games will remain in Salt Lake City: "Salt Lake has cleaned house and the IOC is cleaning house" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/13). MASCOTS ARE PEOPLE, TOO, AREN'T THEY? Due to the negative publicity around the 2002 Games, the SLOC has postponed its February 8 unveiling of the new mascots for the Games. A new date will be announced next month. SLOC Senior VP/Communications Shelley Thomas: "This is not the appropriate time. Our mascots should receive the positive attention they deserve" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 1/13).