LONDON: Brand owners including Visa, Lloyds and Atos Origin are seeking to leverage their sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic Games in London to drive growth.

Nature Valley, General Mills' cereal bar, last week joined the list of more than 40 "local providers and suppliers" for the Games, a status also applying to John Lewis, the retailer, and Rio Tinto, the mining specialist.

Paul Deighton, CEO of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, argued such a position helps brands achieve differentiation, enables firms to champion their products, as well as attract, and retain, talent.

"[This is] the perfect stage where they can demonstrate their own capability," he told the Financial Times. "It's the ultimate feel-good association."

Visa, the credit and debit card group, has been a worldwide Olympic Games Sponsor since 1986, and is also the "official payment services provider" for the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics in London.

Colin Grannell, Visa's head of partnership marketing, suggested the company is "constantly learning" how to utilise this activity to boost its position. "We're all fighting for a share of awareness," he said.

Atos Origin is the worldwide IT partner of the Games, and believes such an alliance offers a range of benefits, according to Patrick Adiba, the organisation's head of major events.

"We showcase to our clients what we do to prepare for the games, how we manage the technology and information systems," he said. "Our people are proud to be involved in the Olympics and, beyond that, it's a fantastic accelerator of sales."

Lloyds TSB, the bank, became the first top-tier domestic sponsor for the 2012 Games, and is working with around a third of enterprises boasting direct contracts linked to the competition.

"We wouldn't have been able to do that if we weren't a partner. That has been an important revenue line for us," Gordon Lott, head of Lloyds' 2012 partnership, said.

Timo Lumme, director, television and marketing at the International Olympic Committee, asserted the "ideals" of the Games were a big draw, but "business imperatives" are equally playing a role.

"I would never say it's easy to get a company to part with over $100m," he said. "Companies now are much more sophisticated in terms of knowing what they want. They have a better sense of overall marketing objectives and why they want to spend."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff