Olympic related trademarks, including the “Olympic Festival”, express the vision and values of the Olympic Games. They are visual representation of the ideals of the Olympic Movement, but, at the same time, represent an extremely valuable marketing property.
The reason for sponsors and partners to join and support the Olympic Festivals should therefore primarily lie in the sharing of the underlying beliefs and philosophy of the Olympic Movement and its mission and goals.
Under such principles, the common challenge of organisers and sponsors/partners will be to ensure the preservation of both emotional and commercial values of the Olympic Games while building a unique social experience for all stakeholders and visitors.
Main marketing stakeholders
- Partners/ Sponsors of the National Olympic Committee/Team
- TOP and OCOG Partners
- Third parties
- Commercial partners of Olympic Festivals (local companies – sponsors and suppliers, and sponsors of sport federations – sport apparel and equipment)
- Non-commercial partners (no money exchange – sharing knowledge and experience - e.g. universities, NGOs etc.
- Institutional partners
- Local authorities (municipalities, regions)
- National ministries
- Governmental agencies
- Embassy (other institutions) of the country hosting the respective Olympic Games
In most cases, partners from most of the main categories will be present at any Olympic Festival. The level of their involvement, however, will vary from OF to OF, from country to country.
- To establish a good partnership and cooperation with sponsors and partners so that the Olympic Games and their spirit can be effectively brought to local populations by means of a successful organisation and production of the Olympic Festival.
- To satisfy all OF stakeholders.
- To enable the NOC and OF stakeholders to reach their target groups.
General principles of cooperation
- In order to maximise its impact, the main message stemming from the cooperation with sponsors/partners, regardless of their field of expertise, must be coherent with the general aims and goals of the OF (excellence, participation, sustainability, friendship, healthy lifestyles, etc.).
- The activation should stress the:
- Link to the ongoing Olympics Games and to Olympic values
- Uniqueness of the event and its concept
- Sustainability of the event
- Cooperation with the best (Olympians, national federations, top athletes → quality label, the best with the best)
- A clear division of responsibilities is crucial. This particularly concerns the delimitation of tasks between marketing and communications departments.
- As many activities are very closely interlinked, it is recommended to create a “tasks” matrix where the division of responsibilities between departments will be clarified.
- For more information about the organisational set-up, refer to the Organisation chapter.
The IOC framework
- The International Olympic Committee owns all rights in respect of the Olympic Games and all rights, including Intellectual Property Rights, in relation thereto, including but not limited to, the Olympic Properties as defined by the Olympic Charter.
- Each NOC is responsible to the IOC for the observance, in its country, of Rules 7-14 and BLR 7-14 of the Olympic Charter (Rights over the Olympic Games and Olympic properties). The NOCs “shall take steps to prohibit any use of any Olympic properties which would be contrary to such Rules or their Bye-laws.” This obligation includes prevention measures against ambush marketing.
Olympic Festival trademark
- The IOC is the owner of all Olympic related trademarks, including the trademark of the “Olympic Festival”.
- Any NOC wishing to organise an Olympic Festival and make use of its Marks has to sign a Licencing agreement with the IOC (for each edition of the OF). Contact the IOC NOC Relations Department for more details.
- Upon signing the Agreement, the IOC will grant to the NOC the non-exclusive right and license to use the Olympic Festival Marks in its territory.
- It needs to be highlighted that the information provided below serves as a guidence and is not bidning. NOCs should always refer to the most recent licensing agreement to understand what rights are available to them.
- The Olympic Festival MarksThe “Olympic Festival” wordmark
- The given Olympic Games (OCOG) marks
- The wordmark “City + Year” stylised
- The look and feel of the Games
- The Olympic Games mascot
- The Olympic Games pictograms
- No organisation can stage an Olympic Festival and use its Marks without the approval of the IOC and without having signed the Licencing Agrement.
Main provisions with regard to the use of the Marks
- The Festival Marks can be used by the NOC in relation to the promotion, organisation and staging of the Festival for editorial and commercial purposes in relation to the NOC’s domestic partners or the TOP Partners.
- The NOC undertakes not to use these assets for commercial purposes.
- The NOC is not entitled to reproduce the Marks on any products including goodies and/or premiums.
- The NOC may not sub-licence the use of the Marks in the Territory to third parties.
- Each use by the NOC shall be subject to the prior written approval of the IOC and shall be submitted to the IOC with sufficient notice.
- No form of advertising or other publicity is permitted at the Festivals, other than:
- Advertising or publicity relating to Olympic Sponsors (TOP Partners or NOC sponsors) who have acquired sponsorship rights relating to the Festivals; and
- Advertising or broadcast sponsorship within the broadcast feed permitted by the RHB long form agreement and contained within the Games broadcast coverage.
Main provisions with regard to sponsorship and advertising rights
- NOCs interested in hosting an Olympic Festival must refer to the provisions stipulated in the licensing agreement which can be secured from the IOC.
- TOP and OCOG partners –rights can be granted
- Partners/ Sponsors of the National Olympic Committee/ Team – rights can be granted
- Third parties – commercial
- If competitors to TOPs – rights cannot be granted
- If competitors to OCOG partners – need to undergo a category check by the IOC, will be subject to its approval.
- If non-competitors to Olympic Partners – rights can be granted only in accordance with a predefined rights matrix framework that places the Olympic Festival partners at a correct level of partnership.
- Third Parties – non-commercial (universities, governmental agencies, NGOs etc.)
- Right can be granted to a limited extent – prior approval of the IOC necessary.
- Institutional partners (cities, municipalities, regions)
- Right can be granted to a limited extent – prior approval of the IOC necessary.
Engaging with sponsors and partners
The sponsors were pleased with their involvement with the Festivals, stressing the promotional, commercial and social value of the project. They expressed a strong interest in continuing the collaboration beyond the 2018 edition, as long as their business objectives are considered.
Source: Event Study on OF 2018 Brno and Ostrava
General provisions and tips
- Sustainability of activities – satisfied partners = continued cooperation and support.
- In the same category, prepare the same offer in terms of visibility, space etc., but approach each partner/sponsor individually. Transparency in communication with partners/sponsors is key.
- Keep in mind the different missions/motivation (revenue vs. social ROI) of different partners (commercial vs. institutional).
- Make the main stakeholders (sponsors, partners, sport organisations) “part of the story” – involve them in the content (activation) development.
- Find the core issues in which a potential sponsor/partner is interested and build the activation around it (e.g. electricity companies promoting “green” energy and physical activity etc.)
- Look for synergies (e.g. an Olympic Team Partner which, at the same time, sponsors an individual athlete).
- Strictly define the tasks of all parties involved (organiser, partner/sponsor, agency of the partner/sponsor, if applicable), ideally already in the contract.
- Consult the Resources chapter for contracts-related information.
The importance of authentic storytelling
The story we tell has to be authentic, but not necessarily true. Disneyland tells stories that are not true, but they are staged as if they were, and this is because there is a great internal consistency. Authenticity means that the story we tell and the scenery that we build must be in harmony with our event, and it must make sense. Viewers may also be irrational humans, but they are not stupid. It’s a bit like a novel. The story told is not real, but the book can be authentic if the plot is consistent and respectful of the reader.
Source: Stefania Demetz, CEO of the FIS Ski World Cup in Val Gardena (Italy)
Partners/sponsors of the National Olympic Committee/Team
An already existing relationship.
1. Start ideally one year before the event.
2. Prepare a general offer and presentation of the project.
- Organise a first meeting either individually or with all partners, and present them with the general offer.
3. Prepare a tailor–made offer for individual partners and organise one-on-one meetings.
- Define the marketing goals and target groups together with the potential partner.
- Assess the opportunities of how the Olympic Festival can help the partner in realising these marketing goals.
- Find a proper activation for the partner based on its aims and company culture and/or offer them the opportunity to put together their own activity.
4. Prepare a detailed offer with the specification of the cooperation.
- The offer should include a detailed list of what the partner will receive for its support and the division of responsibilities.
5. If applicable, organise site visits.
6. Consider organising a common meeting shortly before the event with all the confirmed sponsors/partners to present them with the final look of the event and any other details, and to provide them with the opportunity to discuss among themselves the activities that they are planning.
7. Organise a debriefing for the partners after the event.
- Prepare a “thank you brochure” or any other type of visual presentation of the main success stories of the OF.
- Do not forget about the crucial importance of monitoring (media and activation) and reporting to the partner/sponsor
Making the case for Olympic Festivals: selling the opportunity to the NOC partner
- Image of something elite not in an elitist way, but in association with ‘best quality’.
- Association with “success”.
- Hands on connection with top athletes beyond the regular activities with the NOC.
- Sharing and promotion of social and ethical values.
Enhanced visibility of the brand
- Olympic Festival as a flagship event with a unique opportunity for the presentation of the brand.
- Brand very visible and enjoying media attention. For more information, see the Case studies chapter.
- Cross promotion.
Unique opportunity for the activation of the brand
- Provide potential customers with “experience”.
Enhancing the development of the brand and products
- Possibility to build new databases of customers and do customer research.
- Very good video and visual material as an important asset for further use in the presentation of the brand.
Great platform for the activation of employees/reward scheme
- Hospitality programme for the management.
- Sports day for school, kindergartens.
Potential for a B2B development
- Possibility to meet potential business clients in a special environment, showcasing its concrete activities.
- A platform for communication with other partners of the OF.
- International dimension – potential for an outreach abroad.
- Possibility to specifically demonstrate social engagement in a high-profile and high-visibility setting.
For more information, see the Sustainability chapter.
The construction company, Czech NOC’s partner, organised trips to the OFs for students of construction-related vocational schools to promote this type of education among young people.
Tips and tricks
- Contact the partners’ advertising agencies and make sure they are involved. See how the OF campaign can be integrated into partners’ marketing strategies.
- Manage expectations, it is a new event. It is always better to exceed one’s expectation than underperform.
- Be aware of what sponsors/partners can bring: financial resources, in-kind resources, human resources (volunteers?).
- Live broadcast coverage and intensive involvement of media partners are crucial to generate exposure for the partners/sponsors. For more information, see the Communications chapter.
- Use the potential of top athletes and Olympic legends in the activations.
TOP/ OCOG partners
- To establish a new mutually beneficial partnership with TOP/ OCOG partner(s) in countries where they have not yet been in a close cooperation with the NOC.
- To possibly create more extensive activation as the TOP partners are seldom NOC partners and thus are not heavily involved in the support of other NOC’s activities.
Roadmap and tips and tricks
- Information included in the “Partner/Sponsor of the National Olympic Committee/Team” section is applicable also to TOP/OCOG partners.
Making the case for Olympic Festivals: selling the opportunity to the TOP/ OCOG partner
Reaching out to potential customers in countries where the brand may not yet be very strong
- E.g. by supporting common activities between Olympic Festivals.
Enlarging the scope
- Possibility to profile/associate the brand/company with a healthy lifestyle, sport for all and health-enhancing physical activity while still keeping the connection with elite sport (via Olympians) and the Olympic Rings.
Increasing the visibility of the brand
+ the same elements as for National Olympic Committee/Team Sponsors/Partners
Czech Olympic Committee’s partner activation strategy for Olympic Festivals 2018
The marketing team developed a concept whereby OF sponsors were offered to partner with a specific sport and venue that effectively became a platform for an activation campaign. This was a more concentrated approach, aligned with the objective of the Festivals to motivate people to do sports, inspire kids and encourage families to spend time together. At the same time, it allowed the sponsors to truly engage with the Festivals.
The main challenge for the marketing team was to link up the brands with the sports on the Festival programme. An analysis was conducted to identify the most suitable sports for the brands which were targeted. The link was created based on current and previous sponsorship activities, advertising messaging, corporate strategies and values.
Subsequently, the Czech NOC went to prospective partners, presented the concept, listened to the feedback and came back with a concrete proposal. The rights fees and the level of involvement required from partners depended on the cost of building the venue for a specific sport. As a result, the sponsors took ownership of the sports venues at the Festivals in a sense, in many cases becoming their title partners (e.g. VISA pump track, Coca-Cola snow park).
Third parties - Commercial partners - local companies (sponsors and suppliers)
- To establish, in particular, barter-based cooperation to “fill the gaps” in terms of production and organisation of the activities.
- To potentially “recruit” new NOC partners → good experience of being an OF partner can possibly lead to concluding a general cooperation agreement with the NOC.
- Prepare a general package for local sponsors bearing in mind the hierarchy of sponsors/partners and the IOC framework.
- Check the TOP/OCOG categories and consult the IOC on any sponsor which could be in conflict.
- Be very clear with potential sponsors/partners on the possibilities and opportunities in terms of exposure, visibility and the use of logos, and manage expectations.
- Define marketing goals and target groups together with each sponsor.
- Assess the opportunities of how the Olympic Festival can help the partner/sponsor in realising these marketing goals.
- Find a proper activation for the partner based on its aims and company culture and/or offer them the opportunity to put together their own activity.
Tips and tricks
- Bartering as a very good option to reduce costs. For more details, see the Resources chapter.
- Topics of potential interest for activation:
Olympic Festival Grenoble 2018
The City of Grenoble provided to the French Olympic Committee part of the “Palais de Sport” free of charge to be used as a venue of the OF 2018. Security and safety at the venue was taken care of by the City as well.
Institutional partners - local authorities
- Start well in time: institutions are usually slower than private companies and thus need more time to get through internal administrative processes. For more information, see the Resources chapter.
- Focus from the early beginning on explaining the long-term benefits and the return on investment, especially in people.
Olympic Festivals 2018
Sport-centred presentation of the host city or region may add a special “domestic and homely” feeling to the Festival. Sporting history, successful athletes or historic equipment worked well in this way.
Source: Pilot Comparative Study of the OFs 2018 (Evaluation chapter)
- Suggest value in kind exchanges for operational services to be provided by public bodies (security, first aid, fire brigades etc.).
- Focus on highlighting elements of involvement, cooperation, participation and education of the local population. For more information, see the Resources chapter.
- Work together with the partner on its activation and promotion
- Find ways to fit the event with the “DNA” of the city/region.
- Study the partner’s priorities and challenges and prepare your initial offer based on these findings (e.g. improving social inclusion of disadvantaged groups, boosting tourism, increasing physical activity of school-aged children etc.)
- Refine the ideas together and work on a common product which will lead to the implementation of a common vision.
Making the case for Olympic Festivals: selling the opportunity to the institutional partner
99.9% cities in the world will never host OG
- Great opportunity to get the “Olympic” feeling.
- Best way to be in touch with the most respected non-commercial brand in the world – Olympic rings recognised by 95% of the world’s population.
- Bring Olympic Games to the people.
- Boost tourism offer and consequently increase the number of tourists both during and after the event.
- Change the image of the city/region or reinforce the current image of an active city/region building on positive values.
- Image of a dynamic city/region, a doer, and a place which knows how to organise big events.
- Cooperation with a NOC – can increase the prestige of their “brand”.
- In the spotlight of the media at regional and national level, but possibly also at international level.
Addressing challenges and implementing priorities
- Olympic Festivals can serve as a “tool” contributing to addressing societal challenges such as the lack of physical activity or social exclusion of certain groups of population.
- A great opportunity to collect very valuable data about citizens attending the OF.
Tips and tricks
- Institutions may differ in size, views and experience (depending if they have already hosted a large sport event or not) – tailor-make your approach.
- Use the numbers, statistics and good practice examples from Olympic Festivals which have already taken place. For more information, see the Case studies chapter.
- Highlight to the partners that the organisation of the OF and the visitors’ data and other statistics can help to enhance evidence based policy-making and support the development of innovative practises. For more information, see the Evaluation chapter.
- More information on contract-related matters can be found in the Resources chapter.
- Do not forget about preparing a partnership report for the institutional partner after the closing of the event the same way you would prepare a report for any NOC partner.
Activating sponsors and partners – examples of activities
For your information and inspiration, find below a selection of marketing activation examples from the Olympic Festivals and OF-like events. Should you be interested in additional details and/or other activation tips, do not hesitate to contact the respective organisers (see the Case studies section).
- Partners/Sponsors of the National Olympic Committee/Team (NOT) TOP and OCOG Partners (TOP)
- Third parties
- Commercial partners (TPC)
- Non-commercial partners (TPN)
- Institutional partners - Local authorities (IP)
Activating at sport venues and at sport activities
Olympic Festivals Brno and Ostrava – Adoption of sport venues
- The Czech NOC has built its sponsor activation strategy around the idea of having partners “adopt” sport venues and activities. Sponsors were offered to partner with a specific sport and venue that effectively became a platform for an activation campaign.
- For more information and photos see subchapter “Partners/sponsors of the National Olympic Committee/Team.”
Olympic Festival Rogla 2018
- Several sponsors supported directly sport-related services and/or sport activities, e.g. NOC partner – dairy producer, Alpsko Mleko – which set up a ski service station and took care of a snowboard slalom track, including the provision of branded snowboards for children.
Rio House 2016 – Delhaize Kids Village
- The Belgian supermarket chain, partner of the Belgian NOC, prepared a comprehensive large-scale activity – the Delhaize Kids Village – to reach its main target group – families with children (= a match with the NOC’s main target group for Rio House).
- The village was opened during the whole duration of the Rio House.
- More than 3,000 children participated.
Product promotion and sales launch
Olympic Festivals Brno, Ostrava and Grenoble 2018 – Samsung’s virtual reality and games
- Samsung presented its Virtual Reality products and activities linked to the Olympics at the Olympic Festival Brno and Ostrava.
- It also co-organised a small-scale activation at the Olympic Festival Grenoble 2018, where visitors could try the official game of the PyeongChang Olympic Games in the gaming corner.
Rio House 2016 – Belfius bank’s payment app
- Partner of the Belgian NOC, Belfius bank, offered an additional free drink during happy hour for anybody who purchased a beverage using a digital payment app of the Belfius bank.
Olympic Park Sochi-2014 – Promotion of a new model of Škoda
- Partner of the Czech NOC, Škoda auto, used the occasion to present to the public its new model. The car was presented in a playful way with a mascot involved.
French Olympic Committee’s Hospitality House in Rio 2016 – Lacoste boutique
- The French Olympic Team’s clothing collection by Lacoste was available for purchase in a “Lacoste boutique” at the French House in Rio.
- A transport company – promotion of their train/bus services by offering the OF visitors a reduced rate for their return tickets.
- An insurance company - Special insurance for participants for their sport activities in the OF
Personalised activation matching partners´ interests and objectives
Olympic Festival Grenoble 2018 – MGEN’s Martin Fourcade challenge
- The insurance company, sponsor of the French NOC, offered the organisers their virtual reality activation - “Martin Fourcade challenge” - allowing fans to live an extraordinary digital experience by being immersed in the heart of a biathlon race
Olympic Festival Rogla 2018 - Telekom Slovenije - phone charging station
- Partner of the Slovenian NOC, the telecom company, offered visitors a phone charging station powered with solar panels installed next to its stand.
Olympic Experience 2016 – House of Top Coach of Ernst and Young
- To showcase its focus on excellence the global consultancy, partner of the Dutch NOC, dedicated its activation to providing visitors with an experience of what it is to be a sport coach at the top level.
- The House was opened during the whole duration of the event and had 2 main parts: (1) independent visit: virtual reality “In the locker room with a top coach”, “Top Coaches’ museum” displaying various articles belonging to Dutch top-level coaches, and a video simulation “Help the Coach”, and (2) mini-events: “life” sessions (workshops, masterclasses) with special guests and a quiz “Am I a top Coach?”
- One afternoon was also solely dedicated to children.
Rio House 2016 - AG Insurance Digital Graffiti
- The partner of the Belgian NOC offered visitors the opportunity to become graffiti artists for one day and draw their Olympic-related impressions on a digital wall.
Hospitality programme and catering
Olympic Festivals Brno and Ostrava 2018 - Pilsner Urquell pubs
- The world-known brewery, partner of the Czech Olympic Committee, prepared an activation concept of traditional Czech pubs (hospoda) where visitors could experience the convivial atmosphere and taste the brewery’s famous products.
Rio House 2016 - Delhaize Opening Party
- The supermarket chain organised a corporate party at the Rio House with its affiliated stores with the aim of improving the communications and relationship with the store owners and employees.
Lahti 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships – "Atria’s Guinness World Record in BBQ”
- Sponsor of the event, the Finish food company, organised the longest barbecue marathon, which, in the end, lasted 36 hours, beating the previous record by an hour and 25 minutes. The chefs barbecued over 10,000 servings which were enjoyed by the visitors and guests of the Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti.
- With this record Atria wanted to inspire Finns to barbecue outside of the summer season.
Production-related support and/or barter
Olympic Festival Grenoble 2018 - Club Med
- The French all-inclusive holiday’s provider, official partner of the NOC, provided the organisers with lounge chairs for the fan zone so that the visitors could enjoy the broadcast of the Olympic Games while sitting comfortably.
Rio House 2016 - Toyota shuttle cars
- Toyota provided the organiser’s team with 2 flagship cars for free for the whole duration of the Rio House.
The Belgian NOC used the vehicles as VIP shuttles for specific events or for logistical tasks.
Olympic Festivals Brno and Ostrava - Strabag construction company
- Official partner of the Czech NOC, an international construction company Strabag, was involved in the setting-up of sport facilities at both Festival locations in the Czech Republic.
To promote its brand at the Festival, it had a several construction vehicles displayed at the venues, and participated to several activities.
Sustainability and charitable activities
Olympic Experience 2016 - “Join the pipe”
- The Dutch NGO promoting the use of tap water and reusable bottles to reduce the growing amount of single-use plastic waste, paired up with the organiser to promote its solutions – re-fill stations – at the venue of the Olympic Experience.
French Olympic Committee’s Hospitality House in Rio 2016 - ATOS’s digital solutions
- The worldwide IT partner of the Olympic movement, ATOS, worked together with the French NOC on bringing the joy of the Olympic Game to those who could not experience it – children in hospitals.
- ATOS provided a digital solution – robot scanning faces - which enabled the children to remotely watch what was happening at the French house and interact with the visitors and athletes.
Lahti 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships – Stora Enso’s sustainability activities
- An official sponsor of the Championship, the leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper helped the organisers to make the event more environmentally sustainable by supplying everyday utensils and structures made from renewable raw materials, and by taking care of their recycling and reuse.
- Besides the provision of materials, Stora Engso organised several other activities, among which a well-being challenge to promote healthy and active lifestyles among its employees. More than 4,000 Stora Enso employees around the world took part in the challenge, hoping to win the first prize of VIP tickets to Lahti 2017.
Non-commercial promotion campaigns and educational activities
Stakeholders: IP/TPN (possibly NOT/TOP/TPC)
Olympic Festivals Brno and Ostrava 2018 - Czech Tourism
- The Czech tourism promotion agency activated its partnership by organising a day dedicated to the 100-year anniversary of Czechoslovakia, as well as by promoting the tourism sector at its stand which was present at both Festival locations.
- Czech Tourism was present also at the 2016 event – Olympic park “Rio-Lipno”
Olympic Park Rio-Lipno 2016 - Campaign “Olympic South Bohemia”
- Organised by the Czech Region of South Bohemia, partner and host of the Olympic Park Rio-Lipno, the campaign was based on a roadshow whose aim was to (1) promote the upcoming Olympic park event, (2) make people physically active, and (3) promote local sport clubs.
- The campaign and its activities ran during the whole Olympic year of 2016, and the Olympic park was their pinnacle.
Rio House 2016 - Day of the Belgians
- As a partner of the event, the Belgian Federal government organised a day dedicated to the promotion of Belgium (DJ-set with Belgian artists, virtual touristic cycling tour, goodies, games…).
- Similarly, the Brussels-Capital Region agreed with the organiser to do a one-day promotion of the Region.
- Tourism promotion → use of virtual tours and 3D graphic photo exhibitions, cultural exhibitions
- Promotion of physical activity and healthy lifestyle → cycling tours, seminars, theme days
- Promotion of forthcoming major sport events in the region/country
- Refreshment courses for trainers and officials in various sport disciplines
- Information and/or courses on accidents prevention, first aid, and the use of defibrillators
- Roundtables and seminars on drugs/doping and alcohol abuse prevention
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