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DAVID V. GOLIATH: D'ALESSANDRO CALLS ON IOC TO EXTEND PROBE
Published January 13, 1999
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).