The credit crunch has forced the International Olympic Committee to rethink its sponsorship strategy. The IOC is now seeking a global sponsorship deal with an automotive company. The category had previously been earmarked as a high-level domestic partnership for London 2012.
The IOC is believed to have approached a number of companies, including Hyundai, which is understood to have already turned down a deal, preferring its long-standing FIFA partnership which lasts beyond the 2014 World Cup.
It is thought that the IOC will release the personal care and healthcare category to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, after it was vacated this week when Johnson & Johnson axed its £53m global IOC deal after less than three years (MW.co.uk 18 November).
J&J joins a growing list of companies exiting the IOC’s The Olympic Partnership (TOP) programme. Kodak, insurance company Manulife and Lenovo, the computer company, have all recently failed to renew deals.
Locog named automotive as one of eight “Tier One” categories that it was seeking its highest-paying sponsors from. Tier One sponsorship deals have a £40m entry level.
The economic downturn has forced Locog to revise its plans and, in September, commercial chief Chris Townsend admitted some categories would be downgraded to lower tiers, with automotive expected to be among them. Against a background of sharply falling car sales, Locog has not secured a domestic automotive deal.
The IOC is keen to secure an automotive partner, although any global deal will be very difficult to achieve because of the historic relationships between some car makers and several national Olympic organ≠isations, including one in Italy with Fiat, in Germany with Daimler and in France with Peugeot.
The IOC would have to compensate national committees for any deals affected by a global sponsor. Locog is unlikely to lose out because any global deal over the 2009 to 2012 funding period would include the supply of the 3,500 vehicles Locog needs to stage London 2012.