J&J to Sponsor Olympics Via Back Door

29 July 2005

Cynical observers of the money-fueled bonanza that is the modern Olympic Games suggest the alteration of just one syllable of the old Chinese proverb: 'Softly, softly catchee monkey'.

For 'monkey', say the cynics, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games has substituted the word 'yankee' - to which an outmaneuvred International Olympic Committee can only nod in frustrated agreement.

The Beijing bureaucrats have enticed US healthcare titan Johnson & Johnson into joining compatriot beer company Anheuser-Busch as an "official partner" of the Beijing organizers.

This is cut-price sponsorship compared to those marketers who have taken the traditional route of becoming one of the IOC's eleven TOP (The Olympic Partners) sponsors. That privilege costs up to $75 million (€62m; £43m).

The Beijing bargain basement package is a great deal less: A-B, for example, is said to have paid just $15 million for Budweiser to be the international beer sponsor of the 2008 Games. However, that buys only the right to advertise within the burgeoning Chinese market on TV and other local media.

The IOC's $50-$75 million TOP package, on the other hand, covers not only the summer event in Beijing, but also the winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

And arguably even more importantly, it entitles the Magnificent Eleven to use the five rings of the Olympic logo in their marketing and advertising worldwide - before, during and after the Games.

However, the Beijing deal though cheap is limited. So J&J is also embracing more conventional sponsorships to become the official (but non-TOP) healthcare products sponsor of the Winter Games, and the official products partner of the United States Olympic Committee.

J&J subsidiaries will also become the official products partner of over twenty nations' Olympic teams. The deals encompass all three of J&J's main business sectors: consumer products, pharmaceuticals/medical devices, and diagnostics.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff