WMU News

Olympic sponsorship is big business

Sept. 12, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Companies sponsoring the upcoming Olympic Games may portray themselves as generous benefactors supporting a great cause, but in reality they're hoping to reap big benefits too, according to a WMU marketing professor.

"Generally the reasoning behind event sponsorship includes some combination of image, philanthropy and profits," says Dr. Andrew Brogowicz, chairperson of the Department of Marketing in the Haworth College of Business. "Businesses want to support a good cause, true, but it's also an opportunity to boost sales and profits."

Brogowicz contends that companies must carefully integrate their sponsorship with their overall marketing strategy in order to take full advantage of their sponsor benefits. Typical goals for an Olympic sponsor might include increasing global public awareness of the company and its products, building good will, generating media exposure, targeting the leisure and sports-oriented market segments or breaking into a completely new market.

Bank of America, which recently merged with NationsBank, will launch a new advertising campaign in conjunction with its Olympic sponsorship -- its first major nationwide branding effort. And Anheuser-Busch has spent an estimated $50 million to gain category exclusivity for its Budweiser brand in the United States, meaning it will be the only beer company advertising during NBC's Olympic broadcasts. That company is also sponsoring the Chinese Olympic team and has purchased ad space on Japanese television networks in an effort to secure a market foothold in Asia.

"Anheuser-Busch is trying to see if what has worked in the U.S. will also work in the Far East," Brogowicz says. "Their sponsorship dollars could help them capture a share of a major growing market."

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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