Dome 90m short of sponsorship funding

The New Millennium Experience Company is still seeking more than 90m in sponsorship funds to support the Millennium Dome at Greenwich and the national Millennium Festival.

That is despite the announcement yesterday of three new headline sponsors, which include Tesco and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).

The NMEC unveiled sponsorship deals, embracing those previously announced, totalling 58.8m at a launch for the Dome hosted by Prime Minister Tony Blair. The deals represent just over a third of the total target of 150m.

The sponsors will pay for some of the 12 themed zones inside the Dome.

Tesco, BT, BSkyB, and employment services group Manpower will each put 12m into the project, and have exclusive representation in their product categories as “founding partners”. Further sponsorship deals, valued at 6m, have been struck with BA and BAA. National Lottery organiser Camelot will sell entrance tickets for the Dome through its network of 26,000 retailers, and says it will support the project with other donations “in kind”.

Tesco’s exclusive deal preempted one by Sainsbury’s, which had been in talks to sponsor the Dome. But a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman says: “We decided because we are a national company we want to celebrate with our customers and staff across the nation and not limit celebrations to those who visit the Dome”

BA chief executive Robert Ayling, who is also chairman of NMEC, says the Dome company was talking to a further 40 companies about raising the rest of the sponsorship funds (see box). He says two more deals worth 16m would be revealed shortly, taking funds to 74.8m.

NMEC commercial director Kevin Johnson adds: “We are almost half way there, just four months into the programme. We envisage having most of the founding partners in place by the end of the year. There will be around 12 founding partners, and between 20 and 30 sponsors altogether.”

But BT and BAA have yet to finalise the details of how their funds will be spent. BT’s contribution will help to pay for the Dome’s “Time to Talk” zone. But the company is unclear how its money will be spent. BT spokesman Robert Dunnett says: “The 12m is for the whole programme. We have a broad idea of how the money will be spent, but not the geographical split.”

BT also plans to offer a free UK e-mail ad-dress service and is seeking sponsors to fund it.

BAA will sponsor an area of the Dome, but adds: “Final details are currently being worked out with the designers.” It will also sponsor the Millennium Youth Games over three years, building to the final in the year 2000.

Tesco is spending half of its 12m budget on the “Tesco SchoolNet 2000” project which gives children the chance to make an Internet record of their communities, “a Domesday Book for the 21st century.” The rest of the money will be used to pay for the Learning Curve Zone, one of 12 zones inside the Dome. A Tesco spokeswoman says the 12m will be funded by its existing marketing budget.

BSkyB will sponsor the Serious Play zone in the Dome and says it will use its “unique broadcasting and marketing skills to support the celebrations across the nation.” Former BSkyB chief executive Sam Chisholm is the NMEC’s deputy chairman.

The broadcaster will not receive exclusive rights for the Dome’s millennium celebrations, according to NMEC board member Michael Grade. Different spots will be open to different broadcasters, he says.

Manpower will be exclusive sponsor for the Work Zone, called “Licensed to skill”. It will also manage recruitment of Dome staff. Johnson has revealed that the sponsors will feature in the ad campaign for the celebrations, created by M&C Saatchi, which will run next year.

NMEC has appointed Reebok’s director of global marketing, football and rugby, Ruth Wicks, as general manager for marketing.

THE SPONSOR LIST

The NMEC has opened talks with at least 40 companies as potential sponsors. Those who attended the meeting yesterday included four car companies, two private healthcare and seven financial services companies.The attendees were:

ABB, BAA, Barclays Bank, British Aerospace, British Airways, British Gas, BT, Bupa, CBI, Camelot Group, Canon UK, Carlton Communications, Corporation of London, Daewoo Cars (UK), EDS, GE Aircraft Engines, General Electric, Hinduja Foundation, J O Hambro, Kvaerner Plc, LG Goldstar UK Ltd, LIFFE, London Stock Exchange, Lucent Technologies, Manpower, Marks & Spencer, Merril Lynch Europe, Midland Bank/HSBC, Natwest Group, Nestlé UK, Pepsi Co, Pfizer, Philips Electronics UK, PPP Healthcare Group, Prudential, RANK Group, RAC, Rolls Royce, Rover Group, Siemens, SMH (UK) Ltd (Swatch), Tesco, Toyota Motor Europe, Unipart, Visa International, Volkswagen Group UK.

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