SBJ/August 29 - September 4, 2005/Marketingsponsorship

Allstate, Kleenex back with U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame

The underwriting companies key to the revival of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004 will be back to sponsor the next induction gala later this year.

In renewing its U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor agreement through 2008 — a category priced at about $10 million, according to industry sources — Allstate Insurance Co. negotiated parallel rights as presenting sponsor of future Hall of Fame ceremonies. This was not the case in 2004, when Allstate acquired the presenting rights separately on the eve of the Athens Games.

Kleenex, a consumer brand unit of Kimberly-Clark Corp., returns as associate sponsor of the Hall of Fame, and soon will announce an extension as a USOC supplier-level sponsor into 2008.

The Class of 2006 will be inducted at Chicago’s Harris Theater this Dec. 8, only 60 days before the start of the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. Before summer 2004, the HOF had been dormant 12 years.

Allstate joins Hilton Hotels Corp., hospitality packager Jet Set Sports, Nike and health clubs operator 24 Hour Fitness among the USOC’s sponsor-level supporters, one tier below “partners” Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, General Motors and The Home Depot.

Allstate’s Karen Uhler, senior marketing manager for sponsorships, said the company views the property as a central component of its investment in the five rings.

“The Hall of Fame is a huge asset for us,” she said. “That is our banner event.”

MINI-SERIES DRAMA: Prize money and a Chevrolet Colorado truck will reward winners of the 10th Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix, details of which are to be announced today.

As part of its four-year time-buy deal with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, NBC is televising the three-stop series that builds toward the naming of the 2006 Olympic snowboard team at its conclusion. Cable’s OLN will carry rebroadcasts of the series.

Lindsey Jacobellis won a Chevrolet Colorado in last year’s Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix and is expected to contend again. She’s shown winning another event in February.
The stops are Dec. 13-17 (Breckenridge, Colo.); Jan. 5-8 (Mount Bachelor, Ore.); and Jan. 20-21 (Mountain Creek, N.J.). Total prize money awarded in the series is $340,000.

FLAT LINING: Including the snowboarders, the USSA claims some of the hottest winter Olympic sports stars of recent years, but the frenzy extends only so far. The organization is close to pulling the plug on a Park City, Utah-based corporate hospitality program tentatively scheduled to operate during the Turin Winter Games next February.

The federation still intends to run a “USA House” party command post high in the Italian Alps during the Games, mostly as an informal hangout for athletes, guests and the federation’s sponsors, but a proposed hospitality base on U.S. soil, at The Canyons resort, has not generated sufficient interest, said USSA sales and marketing chief Ted Morris.

FOR SALE: The intentions of 2001-04 domestic Olympic sponsors Chevron Corp. and Cingular (formerly AT&T Wireless) remain unclear eight months into the four-year Olympic cycle. Those two categories, petroleum and telecom, remain on the USOC’s radar as it pursues its sponsor revenue target of about $200 million through 2008.

Potential sponsorship opportunities with the U.S. Olympic team also remain in real estate, business supplies, snack food and automotive tires.

Meanwhile, Chevron maintained a tie-in to the Olympic scene by recently extending its sponsorship of USA Gymnastics through 2008. A seven-year sponsor of the U.S. men’s gymnastics program, Chevron is broadening the scope of its support in the new deal by including sponsorship of the women’s program.

WORLD WATCH: China’s decision to revalue its currency, the yuan, has ramifications for Olympic-related finance, too. For a decade, China pegged the value of the yuan to the U.S. dollar. Now it is basing the value on a basket of currencies that also includes the Euro, Japan’s yen and the Korean won. Beijing’s 2008 organizers are likely to receive less from their cut of television rights from the International Olympic Committee, which pays out that cut in U.S. dollars, while the IOC’s royalty payment from the Beijing Games is likely to increase. … After spending in the neighborhood of $35 million to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, what’s a few more bucks among friends? Nearly two months after the IOC picked London as the 2012 host, the last vestiges of NYC2012’s staff mailed out DVD copies of its final presentation before IOC voters July 6 in Singapore. Meanwhile, NYC2012 media relations staffer Laz Benitez has resurfaced as an East Coast outreach manager within NASCAR’s growing public relations machine. … Only soccer’s World Cup could be associated with record TV viewing audiences for a ceremony. The ceremony is the official draw of teams for the 2006 World Cup, to be hosted across numerous cities in Germany next summer. The 2002 draw attracted more than 250 million worldwide viewers, with slightly more than 100 networks paying for rights. This time, for the Dec. 9 draw in Leipzig, Germany, 136 national TV networks have secured rights. … Former Brener, Zwikel & Associates executive Chris DeBlasio, who handled Speedo’s USA Swimming account, is heading to Showtime Networks as director of sports communications.n

Steve Woodward can be reached at swoodward@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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