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SBD Global/February 19, 2014/Olympics

TOP Sponsorship Deal Allows Dow To Push Sochi Contracts For Customers

Dow’s Veronika Irkha craned her head back and gazed upward at the white beams climbing from the ground to the roof line of the Bolshoy Ice Dome in the Olympic Park. “Whenever I come in it’s, ‘Wow,’” the Russian chemist-turned-Olympic marketer said. “The whole metal, the white on it, is a Dow customer (product) for anti-corrosion." Irkha smiles. It’s the type of smile Dow execs envisioned when they signed the company’s TOP sponsorship deal with the IOC in '10. The deal, which costs more than $25M a year, was designed to excite its employee base and help generate new business for its customers. Dow makes the chemicals and plastics that other companies use to make the products and materials they sell. It calls its products “solutions,” and the company’s idea in sponsoring the Olympics was to help the customers who use those solutions to make everything from anti-corrosive coatings to power cables win contracts to supply the Olympic Games. The company started its sponsorship long after most of the contracts had been awarded in London, but it has had far more success getting its customers’ products -- and by virtue, its products -- into the venues built in Sochi. More than 20 products are incorporated into the venues.

LEADING THE CHARGE: Irkha spearheaded the Olympic sales and placement effort. She joined Dow in '06 as a chemist and became its Olympics project leader in '10. She and her team managed to get Dow products and customers into all five venues in the Olympic coastal cluster and two of the venues in the mountain cluster. But nothing makes her more proud than their success in winning contracts at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, which will host hockey, arguably the most anticipated sport in Russia. Standing outside the venue beside an industrial-sized air conditioning system used to keep the ice cool, Irkha said that a Dowcal Heat Transfer Fluid was being used inside it to help maintain the temperature of the ice. Irkha: “In the past, it was Russian local material, but we were able to prove our material had anti-corrosive agents that would protect the machine longer. For speedskating, you need a certain temperature (for the ice). For hockey, another. This gives you an ability to do that.” In a second level suite, she walked to the veranda and stood beside one of 587 plush suite seats that ringed the 12,000-seat arena. Irkha said, "They needed seats that could absorb sound. First it was a competitor’s solutions for the seats, but we won this. Our customer in Poland, we were able to promise these seats had a certain amount of noise canceling because when it’s hockey, you need to cancel the noise for broadcasters.” The seats contain Dow’s Specflex polyurethane. It was one of a half-dozen Dow products that Dow’s Olympic team was able to get into the Bolshoy arena. Irkha said, "It’s developing of sport, and we’re proud of that. You’re honored you’re able to help, but you hope as a person everything is OK. It’s two feelings” More at SBJ's On the Ground blog.
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Olympics, Russia

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