SBJ/20090921/This Week's News

IOC tabs Prazmark/Shepard to study TOP program

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The International Olympic Committee hired longtime Olympic marketers Rob Prazmark and Tom Shepard to develop plans and outline potential changes to The Olympic Partner program.

The TOP program was a pioneer in the sports sponsorship world when it debuted in 1985, but critics say the program has failed to evolve as the sponsorship landscape has changed in the last decade. Prazmark, a longtime Olympics salesman and the founder of 21 Marketing, and Shepard, a former Visa sponsorship executive who is now the chief partnership officer with Maryland-based Partner Concepts, will use their familiarity with the program to outline proposals for how TOP can evolve to meet future needs of international corporations.

Prazmark and Shepard confirmed that they have been hired to consult with the IOC but declined to comment further. The IOC did not return a call seeking comment.

The TOP program serves as the IOC’s largest source of revenue outside of media rights. Corporations typically buy four-year sponsorships valued at more than $100 million that give them category exclusivity and rights to activate worldwide around a Summer and Winter Olympics. Today’s TOP partners include Acer, Atos Origin, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung and Visa. Johnson & Johnson dropped its TOP partnership after the Beijing Olympics.

In addition to developing proposals for the structure of future TOP programs, Prazmark and Shepard will develop strategies for pitching companies on future TOP partnerships. They are developing strategies for measuring and showing TOP partners’ historical return on investment and brainstorming how TOP presentations will look for the 2016-2019, 2020-2023 and 2024-2027 quadrennials.

Prazmark and Shepard are identifying corporations that have a potential future with the TOP program that the IOC should begin to build relationships with today. Companies such as India’s Tata, which boasts $70.8 billion in revenue across seven sectors including communications and energy, and Japan’s Komatsu, an equipment manufacturer with $20 billion in net sales, have emerged as powerful global companies during the last decade. The IOC hopes to identify the next generation of global companies and begin building relationships with them as they climb onto the world stage.

The IOC’s move to hire Prazmark and Shepard comes on the heels of news that it hired CAA Sports to do media consulting in the U.S.

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