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Volume 20 No. 41


Allstate plans to discontinue its sponsorship of Team USA, becoming the first U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor this year to forgo renewing its partnership.

Sources familiar with the company’s plans said the insurer made the decision before the London Games. The company has been the official insurer of the USOC since 2002. Its deal is valued at $10 million to $15 million over four years.

Allstate and the USOC declined to comment on the company’s renewal plans.

The Chicago-based insurance company has done limited activation around the USOC in recent years. Its primary promotion of the sponsorship was centered on the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, of which it has been the presenting sponsor since 2004. The hall induction event this year took place in Chicago in July. It was taped and broadcast on NBC Sports Network in late August.

During the 2010 and 2012 Olympic years, Allstate didn’t supplement its presenting sponsorship of the hall with an experiential marketing program or Olympic-themed TV advertising. Allstate opted not to buy advertising on NBC during the 2012 Olympics.

The USOC renews most of its sponsors and suppliers during the year a Summer Games is held. In 2008, following the Beijing Games, it struggled with renewals, and several companies, including General Motors, The Home Depot and Bank of America, opted to discontinue their sponsorships.

The USOC has fared much better with renewals in 2012. Allstate is the first of 24 sponsors and suppliers that opted to discontinue its sponsorship. Nike, Oakley, Anheuser-Busch and 24 Hour Fitness all agreed to renew their deals for another four-plus years. The USOC has reached a verbal agreement on a renewal with Hilton Worldwide, as well.

The organization is working on renewals with AT&T, United, TD Ameritrade, Citi and others.

In the wake of Allstate’s decision, the USOC is evaluating how it might reconfigure the insurance category. The organization has looked at selling the life insurance and annuities and auto and home owners categories separately.

Sources said that it has approached Allianz about the life insurance and annuities category. It’s unclear whom it could approach about auto and home owners insurance, but Geico, State Farm and Farmers Insurance have all used sports sponsorships to promote those products.

For the first time, all of the International Olympic Committee’s worldwide sponsors signed on to support the Summer Paralympics, and all 24 sponsors of London 2012 are activating during the event as well.

The sponsorship support is a breakthrough for the International Paralympic Committee and a validation of the International Olympic Committee’s decision in 2001 to require host cities to incorporate the Paralympics into their bid proposals for hosting the Olympics. The IOC’s decision resulted in London organizers including Paralympic rights in the sponsorship packages they sold over the last seven years.

The IPC and London 2012 sold global-level and local-level sponsorships for the 2012 Paralympics. Global sponsors have rights to use the Paralympic logo, while local sponsors have the rights to London 2012’s Paralympic logo. Members of the IOC’s The Olympic Partner program have to buy Paralympic marketing rights separately. Visa, Atos and Samsung are all global sponsors. The other eight TOP sponsors — Acer, Coca-Cola, Dow, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic and Procter & Gamble — opted to buy local sponsorships.

Terms of the deals were not available.

Paralympic organizers credited London 2012’s sales help and the Paralympics’ rising profile with securing an increase in sponsorship support for the London Paralympics. The event, which began last Wednesday and concludes this Friday, has sold a record number of tickets (2.5 million) and is being covered by a record number of print and digital journalists (2,500). Event organizers also expect to have a record number of TV viewers — more than 4 billion people across 100 countries worldwide.

“We’re not a small event anymore, and sponsors are switching onto that and realizing the value of associating with the Paralympics,” said Craig Spence, IPC media and communications senior manager.

Sponsors also have been attracted to the Paralympics in recent years because they see benefits in supporting disabled athletes and relaying the powerful stories those athletes have to tell of overcoming adversity.

P&G, which became a TOP sponsor in 2011, didn’t support the Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010, largely because it was the company’s first Olympics and it was a sponsor of Team USA only. This summer it gave $1,200 in Visa travel cards to mothers of Paralympians and signed three Paralympians for its U.S. marketing efforts. Jodi Allen, P&G vice president of North American operations and marketing, said that the main reason it expanded its support to the Paralympics was because of the powerful stories of those Paralympians.

GE is activating its Paralympics sponsorship by powering lights on the Games’ logo on Tower Bridge.
“Coming out of the Vancouver Games, we said we were really going to make a commitment to Paralympians … and the incredible stories they do have to tell,” Allen said.

GE, another TOP sponsor, made a similar decision. The company didn’t support the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, but it came on board for the 2012 Paralympics and is activating by powering the lights on the Paralympic logo hanging from London’s Tower Bridge.

All of the TOP and London 2012 sponsors, from Acer to Cisco, who built showcases on the Olympic Park are keeping those showcases open during the Paralympics. In contrast, Kodak, a former TOP sponsor, and GE opted to close their showcases after the Beijing Olympics and not reopen them for the Beijing Paralympics, said Alexis Vapaille, the IPC’s marketing and communications administrator.

Some TOP sponsors and many London 2012 sponsors opted to buy in-venue signage during the Paralympics. Unlike the Olympics, the Paralympics don’t offer commercial-free competition venues. The IPC and London 2012 sold premium signage that was in TV view to sponsors and secondary signage that is visible only to spectators. Financial terms of the deals weren’t available.

TOP sponsors Panasonic and Coca-Cola both opted to buy premium signage. Coke will have its Powerade brand’s logo on the basketball court during the Paralympics.

Other sponsors opted to do more traditional marketing. McDonald’s has been giving away the Paralympics mascot Mandeville at its restaurants, and Samsung gave 50 Paralympians a Samsung mobile device to use for posting video blogs on the Paralympics website during the Games.