SBJ/March 31-April 6, 2014/Olympics

NGBs create ‘Trio to Rio’ package

USA Swimming, USA Gymnastics and USA Track & Field are bundling media and hospitality inventory for all three national governing bodies into a single sales package ahead of the 2016 Rio Games.

Billed as the “Trio to Rio,” the partnership marks the first time national governing bodies have pulled together their sales assets since USA Swimming, USA Gymnastics and USA Track & Field sold their media and marketing rights to Wasserman Media Group in 2007. That effort was abandoned in 2009.

The new effort is simpler than the previous one, which was designed to create a digital Olympic network around the three sports. This time the NGBs are combining to offer a sales package that will include digital, print and TV advertising for all three sports and hospitality at marquee events like USA Swimming’s National Championships, USA Gymnastics AT&T American Cup and the 2016 Olympic trials. They also will manage the sales themselves and have no plans to hire an agency to work on their behalf.

USA Gymnastics is in the partnership with USA Swimming and USA Track & Field.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

The NGBs are still working through pricing and specific assets for the packages, USA Swimming chief marketer Matt Farrell said, but the idea is to create packages that emphasize TV inventory during broadcasts of the three NGBs’ major events by NBC Sports.

“If the partner wants to go further for more customized assets or entitlements, we’d be glad to have that conversation,” Farrell said. “But it’s really an Olympic NGB starter set.”

The goal is to give companies that aren’t Olympic sponsors a simple and cheaper way to affiliate with all three national governing bodies. It’s also designed to give U.S. Olympic Committee sponsors a way to promote their sponsorship during the two years between an Olympics. The hope is the packages show companies the value of working with an NGB and inspire them to sign sponsorships with one, two or all three NGBs.

Each NGB will have staff pitching the packages, and they will split the revenue evenly. If there’s a conflict in a category such as insurance, where USA Swimming has a sponsorship with Mutual of Omaha, it could be a two-sport deal with USA Gymnastics and USA Track & Field.

“We’ve made the benefits of the package so that it’s a media and activation package rather than a full sponsorship package, which gives us more flexibility,” Farrell said.

There haven’t been any obstacles to date in the partnership. It only required a willingness to work together, which all the parties had.

“When the pie is not huge, you can divide it or try and grow it,” said Jill Geer, USA Track & Field’s chief public affairs officer. “Combining forces is the best way to grow it.”

The packages give buyers a chance to affiliate with the three biggest sports in the Summer Games. Swimming, gymnastics and track and field receive more prime-time programming during the Summer Olympics on NBC than any other sport. At the London Games, the U.S. swimming, gymnastics, and track and field teams accounted for 63 percent of the medals Team USA won.

The USOC last year encouraged the three NGBs to start working together. Its marketing team saw an opportunity for the NGBs to pull their media assets together and create a more appealing opportunity for advertisers than they could offer individually.

“We went down this road with Wasserman a few years ago, but it never got off the ground the way we wanted it to,” said Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics president. “We’ve finally put something together we think will work. I’ve been doing this a while, and I’ve felt more invigorated [by this] than I have in a while.”


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