SBJ/October 29 - November 4, 2007/This Weeks News

Eastman Kodak will shutter USOC deal when IOC ties end

Eastman Kodak will step down as a U.S. Olympic Committee partner after the 2008 Beijing Games when it also ends its partnership with the International Olympic Committee.

Kodak had been the official imaging sponsor of the IOC since the TOP program began in 1986. Its partnership with the USOC was an extension of that relationship, and sources put its value at more than $5 million over four years.

The film and camera company announced its decision to leave the IOC two weeks ago in a move that caught few by surprise, considering the rise of digital cameras and the decline of film.

Eastman Kodak has been a partner of the
USOC and IOC since 1986.

“It’s unfortunate to lose such a longstanding and strong partner, but in many ways, it’s probably good for them and may create more opportunities for us,” said USOC Chief Marketing Officer Rick Burton.

Burton, who joined the USOC in early October, said the USOC has not made any decisions about whether it will fill the film category or redefine it as it continues its sales efforts for the 2009-12 quadrennial.

Rather than focusing on categories, Burton said the USOC will work to secure sustainable partners.

“Churn is bad,” he said. “You can’t afford to bring someone in for one quadrennial and then have the market conditions change and they’re out.”

Burton made his public debut for the USOC during its Olympic Assembly in Houston Oct. 19-20. During a marketing panel he moderated, he highlighted his intentions to expand the USOC’s marketing of Olympians by creating new platforms to promote its athletes.

He also mentioned the possibility of holding Olympic Trials earlier so that Olympic teams could be selected in enough time for corporate partners to incorporate athletes in their advertisements ahead of the games.

But, Burton said, “It starts with the USOC. It starts with us making more platforms.”

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