Team USA sponsors join pre-Games program |

Team USA sponsors join pre-Games program

A handful of Team USA sponsors will join the U.S. Olympic Committee to support a new marketing program designed to recognize the 2010 Winter Olympics team ahead of the Vancouver Games.

For the first time, the USOC is rolling out a marketing program called “Making Team USA” that will run the 100 days leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Games. The program, which will kick off Nov. 4 with a celebration at Rockefeller Center, is being supported by presenting sponsor Hilton Worldwide and associate-level sponsors Coca-Cola, Acer, 24 Hour Fitness, Hartford, Samsung, McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch.

Like the NBA or NFL draft, the marketing program will recognize up-and-coming athletes as they join the Olympic team. It is the second marketing program launched by USOC chief marketer Lisa Baird since she joined the organization in February. Like the previous marketing program tied to July 4, “Making Team USA” is designed to heighten the profile of the U.S. Olympic team and give sponsors platforms to activate around outside the two weeks of an Olympic Games.

“We hope this is a platform that will continue to promote new athletes in future years just like the NFL has with their draft and the NBA has with their draft,” Baird said. “That’s why we’re looking to launch it as broadly as we are. We want to get it out there in front of people and grow it.”

Baird declined to discuss financial details of the program, but sources said it represents a new revenue opportunity for the USOC. The organization sold the presenting and associate-level sponsorships to members of its sponsor family for a nominal fee. It initially priced the presenting sponsorship at $400,000, sources said, but Hilton paid less than six figures for the partnership. Associate-level prices were not available.

Sponsors will receive on-site activation rights at the Nov. 4 event at Rockefeller Center and media exposure on the “Today Show.” The USOC’s integrated marketing plan calls for public-service announcements featuring athletes and an ad announcing its 2010 Olympic Team in USA Today. The USOC also plans to hang street pole banners featuring Hilton’s logo around New York City in support of the Nov. 4 event.

The partners who bought into the program will roll it into their activation plans for the Vancouver Games. As the first-time sponsor of the new program, Hilton will run a themed sweepstakes that will award registrants prizes such as Team USA apparel and a trip to the Vancouver Games. The sweepstakes will be promoted on Hilton’s Web site and, where the company will present “Making Team USA” updates.

“If this was the only thing we were doing by itself, it wouldn’t make sense, but in the scope of the nature we’ve supported the USOC in the past we think this is a worthwhile event,” said Jeff Diskin, Hilton’s senior vice president of brand management and marketing.

Associate-level sponsors plan similar support. Coca-Cola will unveil can graphics at the Nov. 4 event and show webisodes featuring snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, figure skater Evan Lysacek, hockey player Angela Ruggiero, speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno and pairs figure-skaters Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker. Acer will sponsor demonstrations of winter Olympic sports. Hartford will sponsor a curling demonstration by Paralympians. 24 Hour Fitness will be the Nov. 4 presenting partner of the five-ring challenge, used to identify junior Olympians.

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Posted on: October 19, 2009
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