The companies spending millions of dollars to sponsor the 2002 Winter Games should soon become more visible to Utahns, the top marketer for the U.S. Olympic Committee said.
Several, including Texaco and General Motors, have already sent teams to the state to participate in a sponsor program put together by the joint marketing venture between USOC and the Salt Lake Organizing Committee."We just give them a total immersion course in Salt Lake," explained USOC Deputy Secretary General John Krimsky, the head of the joint marketing venture known as the Olympic Properties of the United States.
That includes a tour of Olympic competition sites as well as visits to hotels, restaurants and other facilities where corporate guests could be entertained during the Games.
While providing hospitality for their best customers is important to the corporate sponsors, they're also going to want to make themselves known to Utahns, Krimsky said.
Community involvement is important to the success of a company's association with the Olympics, Krimsky said, because it "extends the reach of the sponsorship."
Companies want to reach as far as possible to tap potential customers after investing $20 million to $50 million or more to become a national sponsor of the 2002 Winter Games (as well as the U.S. Olympic teams in most cases).
"We've got to cultivate business," said Mike Ricci, director of Olympic and sports marketing for York International, a heating and cooling company that's already donated snowmaking and other equipment to Olympic organizers.
"The reason we're supporting the Games is we're looking for a return on our investment," Ricci said, noting the Pennsylvania company opened an office in Utah 1 1/2 years ago to help capitalize on its Olympic association.
Other sponsors rely more on advertising their Olympic sponsorship to recruit new customers, especially those who sell products directly to consumers, like Home Depot and Delta Air Lines.
The cost of an Olympic sponsorship - which can be paid in cash, merchandise and services - buys a company the right to advertise itself as providing the official Olympic product or service in a specific category.
So far, 10 companies have signed up with the joint marketing venture as national sponsors for the 2002 Winter Games, and only one, Coca-Cola, with the International Olympic Committee as a worldwide sponsor.
The number of national sponsors is expected to double, and Coca-Cola will likely be joined by most if not all of the current worldwide Olympic sponsors, including IBM, Kodak, McDonald's, UPS, VISA and Xerox.
Here's what the sponsors who have already signed told the Deseret News about their plans:
Even though the company signed up to sponsor U.S. Olympic teams through 2008, the focus is on 2002. "Everything will culminate for us in Salt Lake," said Dean Rotondo, head of Olympic operations.
"We'll be the official car and truck of the U.S. team, the official car and truck of NBC's coverage of the Games and the official car and truck of the Games themselves," Rotondo said from the company's Detroit headquarters.
GM also wants to be "a focal point" in the Salt Lake-area community. "We haven't resolved it yet, but you're going to see us do some things," probably beginning after the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.
As a sponsor of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, General Motors received a lot of attention - both good and bad - for its bright blue tented exhibit in the city's Centennial Olympic Park.
The interactive exhibit, which drew huge crowds, was criticized as an example of the overwhelming presence of sponsors in Atlanta, especially after a fleet of Chevy trucks made an appearance in the Games' opening ceremonies.
"We learned a great deal from the experience - how to tastefully do things in the spirit of the Games," Rotondo said.
A spokesman for the St. Louis-based brewery that will provide the official Olympic beer had little to say about the company's planned activities in Salt Lake City.
"I don't know that anything's been confirmed," Anheuser-Busch spokesman Greg Hendricks said, declining to comment on what impact concerns raised about the sponsorship might have on the company's plans.
A coalition that includes the Utah Medical Association and the state PTA has protested the sponsorship, calling for a ban on advertising alcoholic beverages during the Games.
The company has been a longtime supporter of the Olympics. During the 1996 Summer Games, Anheuser-Busch set up a huge tented beer hall in Centennial Olympic Park that was dubbed "Bud World."
US WEST is the most active sponsor locally, attempting to help create an atmosphere of fun for everyone in Utah - even those who cannot afford tickets to the events.
Mark D. Stewart, US WEST's executive director of Olympic programs, said the company is still planning specific activities, but expects to have some pavilion space in downtown Salt Lake City during the Games.
"We clearly want to have a place for the community to come and see an exciting, entertaining and informational experience," Stewart said. "The tickets to (Olympic events) are going to be expensive, if it's anything like they were in Nagano (Japan, during the 1998 Winter Games). But you can still come downtown. You can trade pins. You can see some advanced technology. You can have an Olympic experience."
He said the company wants to put together "Star Trek kinds of things" to make its pavilion fun. One early proposal is a virtual reality game that would allow people to race with Olympic athletes.
"We really want the place to have a festival atmosphere," Stewart said.
US WEST also hopes to run several community outreach programs prior to the Games, he said. For example, it may sponsor clinics that give disadvantaged children an opportunity to meet and learn from Olympic athletes.
Stewart said the company will run contests and promotions that give people a chance to win tickets to the Olympics, and it may help groups of schoolchildren attend some events.
"We want to make sure that, when the Games are over . . . and they turn out the lights, everybody feels they've had a chance to participate in one way or another," he said.
About $35 million of the US WEST sponsorship money is focused on delivering the networking and communications technology needed to put the Olympics together, Stewart said, and that means Utah will inherit a high-tech, state-of-the-art system when the Games are over.
"We're headquartered in the Rocky Mountain states and have a big presence in every community," he said. "This is in our back yard, and we expect to be good corporate citizens. . . . We want this to be a showcase for the world to come and see what Utah's like and what US WEST is like."
The North Carolina-based bank doesn't have any branches in Utah, but it's now the official bank of the 2002 Winter Games. And just as it did as a sponsor of Atlanta's Games, NationsBank extended a line of credit to Salt Lake City's Olympic organizers.
Bank officials met last week to begin talking about Salt Lake City and plan to visit here within the next few weeks, NationsBank spokeswoman Julie Davis said from Atlanta.
"We can promise that Salt Lake will know us and we're looking forward to getting to know Salt Lake," she said.
Does that mean there'll be a local branch to handle the $170 million line of credit? NationsBank officials have made it clear they'd like to "be coast-to-coast within the next few years. We'll have to leave it at that," Davis said.
The company that's supplying the official gasoline, motor oil and other related products for the Winter Games is still working on its marketing plans for 2002.
Whatever Texaco comes up with "will be significant and agressive and high profile," promised Chris Gidez, director of external communications for the company based in White Plains, N.Y.
That includes efforts to showcase Texaco and its products to Utahns through community programs. "We're not going to be a distant cousin to anyone," Gidez said.
The company, which served as a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team in Nagano, didn't do much there, Gidez said. But it'll be different in 2002. "We're going to do a heck of a lot in Salt Lake City," he said.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield
The insurance company is providing free health-care coverage for employees of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee as part of its sponsorship package.
Much of the home-improvement retailer's sponsorship efforts will be focused on its employees, including Olympic athletes hired under a special program that allows them time off to train and compete.
"We're not a real showy company when it comes to our sponsorships," said spokesman Jerry Shields from the company's headquarters in Atlanta. The 1996 Summer Games there were Home Depot's first experience with the Olympics.
In 1996, the company brought some 600 employees to Atlanta to attend the Summer Games in addition to the Olympians on the payroll who were there to compete.Shields said the jobs program, which employed about 100 athletes, will be expanded to prepare the U.S. team for 2002. That likely means more Olympians-in-training working for Salt Lake-area Home Depot stores. Now, there's just one.
The company will come up with ways to involve other Utahns in the Olympics, too. "Of course we're going to be doing community programs. There's absolutely no doubt about that," Shields said.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines, which operates a major hub at Salt Lake International Airport, agreed in February to become the official airline sponsor of the 2002 Games.
Delta's first official act as a sponsor was to transfer the Olympic flag to Salt Lake City - along with Mayor Deedee Corradini, various Olympians and SLOC officials - following the close of the Nagano Games.
"Delta has supported Salt Lake City's Olympic Games bid efforts since the late 1980s," said Leo Mullin, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Delta. "And we will continue to visibly express our commitment to the people of this community."
Delta is expected to provide a combination of cash and in-kind donations, including airline tickets. Sponsorship promotions are scheduled to begin April 1, and the airline is currently developing an ad campaign and Olympic merchandising program.
Delta is among the city's largest employers with 4,500 people working in Salt Lake. A Delta spokesman said some of them may be "invited" to participate as volunteers for the Games.
The airline has no current plans to add flights or hire additional employees to handle any increased passenger traffic connected to the Games, although it is presumed that travel to Salt Lake City will increase over the next four years in preparation for the event.
Although Delta is the official airline sponsor of the 2002 Winter Games, United Airlines is a U.S. Olympic Team sponsor. Delta's sponsorship includes Delta Express, Delta Shuttle, Delta Connections, Delta Vacations, SkyMiles and Delta Cargo.
The official timer for 2002 "is committed to leaving a legacy behind," according to Joe Whall, manager of corporate communications in the company's U.S. headquarters in New Jersey.
"There will be contributions of equipment, services and facilities," Whall said, adding that it's too soon to be more specific about the benefits Utahns will receive from Seiko's sponsorship.
"It's a huge opportunity for us, and we don't let opportunities slip through our fingers," he said, predicting that sales of watches and other Olympic merchandise manufactured by Seiko will be strong in Utah.
The company has commited to giving watches to local volunteers during the Games, as well as to providing timing devices and scoreboards for competition venues.
It's still too early to say exactly what the heating and cooling company's plans are for 2002, Ricci said, although the company will likely focus on Olympic athletes training in Utah.
"What we're very interested in doing is leaving behind a legacy that will benefit Utahns," he said. Already, York International has donated refrigeration and other equipment to the state's Olympic facilities.
Those facilities, including the bobsled and luge run near Park City, were built with tax dollars that are due to be repaid from Games revenues once the organizing committee takes them over.
Ricci said he hopes Utahns keep that contribution in mind. "We hope for community support," he said. "We've helped underwrite these Games just like the citizens of the state of Utah did."
Coca-Cola is the first international sponsor for 2002, and a local distributor plans to get in on the act.
Swire Coca-Cola USA of Salt Lake City is still in the early stages of planning its part in the Olympics, said Jeff Edwards, Swire vice president of distribution.
"The over-the-top umbrella advertising and funding of venues comes from corporate," Edwards said. "We've gone to Nagano. We've seen what they've done there. We have an idea what we would like to do here, but we're still in the early planning.
"We'll be there. People are going to see us."
Coca-Cola has also helped underwrite the cost of recent Olympic torch runs. That's the multimillion dollar effort to bring a flame lit in the Greek birthplace of the Olympics to the opening ceremonies of a Games.
Winter Games Sponsors
Sold by the International Olympic Committee*
(Valued at more than $50 million)
Sold by the United State Olympic Committee/Salt Lake Organizing Committee**
(Valued at more than $50 million)
Blue Cross/Blue Shield
* IOC sponsorships include the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Coca-Cola has signed up through the 2008 Summer Games, in a city yet to be selected.
** Most of these companies are also sponsors of the U.S. Olympic teams through the 2004 Summer Games.