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Volume 24 No. 157
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IOC Marketing Chair Hopes For 12 TOP Sponsors, $1B In Revenues Before London

Heiberg discusses future of
Olympic sponsorship in Q&A
IOC Marketing Commission Chair Gerhard Heiberg said that the “value of the five rings is at an all-time high despite an economic downturn that left the market for new Olympic partnerships ‘completely dry’ in recent years," according to Ed Hula of AROUND THE RINGS. Heiberg spoke about the “future of Olympic sponsorship" during a recent interview, a portion of which is below.

Q: What can you say right now about the direction The Olympic Partner program is taking? Do you feel that there are going to be additional TOP sponsors coming abroad before London, or is now a renewal phase?
Heiberg: We have 11 for the time being. Time is slowly but surely running out, but I still hope that we can get number 12 on board before London. I never guaranteed we could. What I said I hope is that we should pass the $1 billion mark when it comes to revenues. We are at around $960 million, so we need another one. Whether we get it or not, I don’t know at this stage. But we are in contact with some companies, yes.

Q: So one of those you hope will bear fruit?
Heiberg: That’s correct, and then we have the renewal process. GE is of course a little bit dependent on what we do on the television side in the United States. We have Acer, and so we will see. McDonald’s is the third one. We are in contact with all three of them, of course.

Q: You suggested there may be some link or some connection between the TV rights in the United States and continuation of the GE sponsorship?
Heiberg: I’m not saying that the one is dependent on the other, but as you know, GE owns NBC, and now Comcast has come into the picture, but we tried to talk to GE hopefully to get them regardless of what happens with the TV contract.

Q: What is the climate like when you go out and make sales calls now on behalf of Olympic sponsorship? Is it different than it was a year or two ago? Are companies giving you more attention without worrying about the economic situation?
Heiberg: Yes, I think we had some tough times, and we had the financial crisis, and it was completely dry for us. But now things have loosened up, and that’s why I say we are in contact with some companies, and they were not there two years ago, but they are there today.

Q: Is TOP a program that will stay?
Heiberg: We have discussed that many times, and we feel that it will stay until at least 2020. That’s why we have not gone any further. … We do not want to go any further, so that we in a couple of years time again can evaluate should we continue the TOP program or should we from 2020 change into something very different (, 4/19).