After a yearlong delay, the Tokyo Olympics are almost here.
Sports fans are eager to watch Simone Biles, Allyson Felix, and Adam Peaty pretty much defy physics, while sponsors are ready to measure their ROI.
The leadup to the Olympics has been complicated. Not only was it delayed an entire year due to the pandemic, but organizers didn’t decide whether or not spectators would be allowed until last week.
Though attendees won’t be allowed due to rising cases of COVID in Tokyo, the Olympic Games will still bring in a huge amount of sponsorship revenue.
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It’s been a bumpy road getting to the Olympics for sponsors
For most 2021 Olympic Games sponsors, the international event presented a tremendous opportunity, but also a ton of unpredictability.
Some brands had no choice but to stick with sponsoring this year’s games, because they are locked into a multi-year contract.
For context, Olympics sponsors are broken down into four tiers: Worldwide Olympic Partners, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gold Partners, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Official Partners, and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Official Supporters.
Worldwide Olympic Partners are sponsors committed to multi-year contracts, while other tiers are tied to just the Tokyo Games. Worldwide Olympic Partners include Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Alibaba Group, GE, and more. As we’ll see in the MediaRadar data below, sponsors in this tier aren’t necessarily the biggest spenders.
It’s been a tough preparation process for other sponsors connected only to the Tokyo Games. Because event organizers took a long time to announce that there would be no spectators, lower tiered-sponsors felt a lot of uncertainty around their campaigns and complained of unmet needs.
“We’ve had to shift the whole marketing superstructure,” explained Timo Lumme, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC)director of TV and marketing services to SportsPro. “Which in our world runs in four-year periods and ends in the year of a summer Games – it should have ended in 2020. We had to extend some sponsors’ rights, extend the period of activation.”
The IOC admits that it’s been complicated as they’ve tried focusing on getting to the Tokyo finish line, while also needing to address long-term reorganization.
When it comes to TV, however, NBCUniversal feels the excitement from sponsors using this specific format. This year Tokyo attracted more than 120 advertisers, which is a 20% increase from the 2016 Summer Olympics, per Adage.
Longterm, The Olympic Partner (TOP) program, which is responsible for securing multitiered sponsorships of the games, is set to raise over $3B in the quadrennium from 2021 to 2024, up from $2B in 2017-2020, per the SportPro article above.
It’s going to be an exciting Olympics, and sponsors will probably be relieved just to get their campaigns out there.
It goes without saying that sponsors of the Olympic games are highly recognizable. They include: Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Bridgestone, Asics, Samsung, P&G, Google, and others.
Notably missing from this lineup is McDonald’s. While they might purchase TV ad space from NBC, they are not an official sponsor of this year’s summer Olympic games.
This group of sponsors spent $2.3B in the first six months of the year, of which P&G spent 49%. P&G is using their ad time as a platform to promote positive messaging (e.g. #LeadWithLove)
The top five spending sponsors of the Tokyo Summer Games are:
Their spend accounts for 93% of all Olympic sponsor spend. Though this can be expected from these brands, the surprising thing is that Google is the only sponsor in this group that isn’t a Worldwide Olympic sponsor. Instead, they’re an Official Supporter, the 4th tier of sponsors.
Worldwide Olympic Sponsors aren’t necessarily the biggest spenders even though they have multi-year contracts. Alibaba, Atos, Bridgestone, Dow Chemical, GE, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, and Visa are all Worldwide Olympic Sponsors, but their total spending over the first six months of 2021 totaled $50.7mm, which is only 2% of all Olympic sponsor spending.
The remaining 5% of spend ($115mm) is split across 30 companies.
As the Olympics begin, we’ll be watching our favorite athletes, but also top spending advertisers display their ad campaigns they’ve been waiting on for a long time.
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