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The Ambush Marketing Race to the Sochi Olympics is on!


P&G, Samsung and GE lead Worldwide Partners but trail Philips, Siemens and Adidas

Ten of the top 15 spots are occupied by the Non-affiliated Marketers

The race to the Rio Summer Olympics (2016) is not far behind


Sochi Ambush Marketing Report Image

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AUSTIN, Texas August 30 – September 2, 2013 — Six months out, the race for the Top Marketers of the Sochi Winter Olympics is in full swing. And the race to the Rio Summer Olympics of 2016 is not far behind, according to the “Sochi 2014 Ambush Marketing Outlook” report released by the Global Language Monitor (GLM), the brand equity trend tracking firm. P&G, Samsung and GE lead the Worldwide Partners but trail Non-affiliated Marketers Philips, Siemens and Adidas. When measured by GLM’s proprietary Brand Affiliation Index (BAI),10 of the top 15 spots are occupied by the Non-affiliated Marketers – with the bottom five spots all held by top sponsors. The longitudinal study began in July 2011 and tracks the top Worldwide Partners as designated by the Sochi Organizing Committee (SOC) and IOC.

The Global Language Monitor has been conducting brand audits of the top Olympic sponsors and their unaffiliated competitors since the Beijing Summer Games.

In the study conducted throughout August, three brands among Sochi’s ten Worldwide Olympic Partners, P&G, Samsung and GE have already achieved significant brand affiliation with Sochi, while McDonald’s, Panasonic and Coca-Cola had some brand affiliation. The Sochi Winter Olympics have ten Worldwide Olympic Partners: Atos Origin, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega watches. Panasonic, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Samsung, and Visa Card.

For these rankings GLM measured the strength of the brand affiliation for each official Olympic sponsor against those of their primary non-affiliated competitors. Though ‘ambush marketing’ is well understood to mean an organization knowingly exploiting a brand affiliation with the Games without the benefit of official sponsorship, all perceived Olympic affiliations according to their presence in the global media, and statistically linked to the the particular event, qualify for GLM’s Ambush Marketing rankings.

“The Olympics have the ability of make, break, energize, or hasten the decline of global brands. As they become an ever larger presence in an evermore wired world their importance to the global marketing community will only increase in new (and possibly disruptive) ways,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Successfully affiliating one’s brand with the Olympics can result in billions of dollars in revenue differential.”

In a related finding, the Non-affiliated Marketers (or ambush) are putting considerable pressure on these official sponsors, since they share, or even co-opt, much of the brand equity of the Olympic movement without contributing to the costs of the Games. The Non-affiliated Marketers perceived to be in competition with the Worldwide Olympic Partners for a share of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics’ brand equity, include: Adidas, DuPont, IBM Global Services, Nike, Omega, Panasonic, Pepsi, P&G, Red Bull, Samsung, Subway, and Visa Card, among many others. Some of these compete head-to-head with the Top Sponsors, such as IBM Global Services (vs. Atos Origin), Pepsi and Red Bull (vs. Coca-Cola), DuPont (vs. Dow Chemical), Royal Philips (vs. General Electric), while others simply co-opt the Olympic brand equity to their own particular advantage.

Overall, the combined scores of the Non-affiliated Marketers for Sochi held a significant lead over the Worldwide Olympic Partners with a BAI score of 66.2 vs. 22.56 for the Worldwide Olympic Partners.

Fully freighted, the cost of being a Top Olympic partner can approach a billion USD over an entire Olympiad, the four year period between Summer or Winter Games. This cost includes the IOC rights fee, associated business development and the cost of advertising, merchandising, and the many other marketing activities undertaken by the Top Sponsors. Most of the Top Sponsors have signed multi- Olympic contracts that include Summer, Winter and Paralympics.

Therefore any Olympic brand equity transferred to the Non-affiliated (or ambushers), can mount to hundreds of millions of dollars in value, or more. Consequently the IOC, and the host-country Organizing Committees have created ever more stringent rules about the unlicensed use of the official Olympic brand images, who can use them, how they can be used, geographic restrictions, and even going so far as to limit various word pairings and combinations that might be construed as referring to the Games, the individual events, or participating athletes.

To better understand the seriousness of the ‘value leak’ of the Olympic brand equity, GLM then combined the previous BAIs against each other in a single ranking.
When measured by BAI, ten of the top fifteen spots are occupied by the Non-affiliated Marketers – with the bottom five spots held by top sponsors.

The Rio Summer Games of 2016

Some three years before the start of the XXXI Summer Games on August 5, 2016 the Worldwide Olympic Partners are already reaping the branding benefits of being linked to the Summer Games.   The Worldwide Olympic Partners for were ranked according to their BAIs for the 2016 Rio Summer Games anmd were grouped into moderate (60-30), low (20-10) and extremely low (>10) BAIs.

Dow Chemical leads all Worldwide Olympic Partners for the 2016 Rio Summer Games with a BAI 50X stronger than what it is Sochi. The Panasonic and Coke brands also move up to Nos. 2 and 3 from their fifth and sixth positions for Sochi.

Overall, the combined scores of the Non-affiliated Marketers for Rio held a significant lead over the Worldwide Olympic Partners with a BAI score of 64.24 vs. 22.91.

As with Sochi, the Rio Ambushers lead the Worldwide Olympic Partners in August 2013 by a margin of approximately 3:1.

The severity of Olympic ‘value leaks’ can be demonstrated by the fact that they are already occurring with the Rio Summer Games of 2016, some three years away.
IBM Global Services leads the Non-affiliated Marketers for Rio moving up from the No. 10 spot for Sochi and increasing in value by more than 400%. Other big movers include: DuPont dropping six places to No. 11, Siemens falling from No. 2 to No. 10, and Adidas falling to No. 5 from No. 3 from the Sochi rankings. On the positive side, Rolex moved up to the No. 3 up in the rankings.

Final Olympic Brand Affiliation Rankings of the London Games

Who Actually Won the London Games?

The final Olympic Brand Affiliation Rankings of the London Games were announced by the Global Language Monitor, earlier today. The longitudinal study began in July 2011 and tracks the top three tiers of official Olympic sponsors, as designated by the LOGOC and the IOC – as well as their primary affiliated and non-affiliated competitors.

Among the highlights:

In spite of it ambush theatrics, Nike was bested over the entire year by an 85.0 t0 79.7 BAI margin. In fact Adidas score higher in the second quarter than Nike’s spike in the aftermath of its ambush stunt.

Other relavent findings include:

  • Royal Philips was the top-branded affiliate overall with an extraordinary BAI of 847.0
  • Coca-Cola scored twice the BAI of both Pepsi and the usually aggressive Red Bull.
  • United Airlines and Air France outdistanced BA by considerable margins. BA bested only Lufthansa.
  • ExxonMobil came in at No. 4 overall, outpacing Sponsor BP by some 6:1.
  • Royal Philips, Manpower, CVC Capital, ExxonMobil, IBM Global, and Schroders all ranked higher than any sponsor at any level.
  • P&G did not score as well as during the last two Olympics, but smartly outranked rival Unilever.
  • In a major B2B upset, Ericsson dominated Cisco by a BAI score of 106.0 to 13.7.
  • The sponsors most adept at affiliating their brand with that of the London 2012 Games for the entire Olympic year are ranked below:
  • Panasonic — The top TOP sponsor but No. 4 overall in the category.
  • Coca-Cola — Consistently ranked highly throughout the Olympic year, beating Red Bull by a comfortable margin.
  • McDonald’s — Strong and steady showing against six persistent competitors.
  • P&G — Peaked early in Q1 tailed off during the Games, themselves.
  • Acer — Battled Lenovo, Dell and HP and won the day.
  • Dow — Fell short of both DuPont and BASF.
  • Atos Origen –Lagged behind IBM Global and CAPGenimi
  • Visa Card — BarclayCard was much the stronger.
  • GE – Royal Philips finished No. 1 Overall, 10X stronger than General Electric.
  • Omega — Nearly doubled the BAI of Rolex.
  • Samsung — Though the official sponsor, Samsung’s could not penetrate Sony’s brand persona

Some seventy-five brands were studied including the twenty-five premier official sponsors divided into three tiers: The TOP partners, which pay approximately one hundred million pounds for the privilege, the Official Olympic Partners, and the Official Olympic Sponsors. Together these sponsors pay an estimated 30% of the cost of staging the games. There are a number of other levels and forms of sponsorship including national sponsorships such as the USOC. The real cost of being a top worldwide partner ranges from a $500 million to over a billion dollar investment to companies that sign on for sponsorships spanning several Olympiads.






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