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Olympics Busy

By the time the Olympics begin in Atlanta this summer, the business world will have spent more than '1 billion to link their names and products to the Olympic Games. There are 10 Worldwide Sponsors, 10 Centennial Olympic Partners, about 20 regular sponsors and more than a hundred licenses. The Atlanta Games will boast an “official" scouring pad and timepiece, two official game shows, and three official vehicles: a family car, an import minivan and a luxury sedan.

But what exactly do these companies reap for their huge investment? At the very least, they command tickets to the most popular events, invitations to the best parties and prime hotel rooms. But most of all, according to US Postal Service, it is purchasing the right to spend money.

And the right to spend money is expensive. The biggest backers, Olympic sponsors like Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Mcdonald's and Xerox, commit up to '40 million. But, getting the rights to the Olympic rings is only half the battle. The other half is the challenge to sort of wrap their product brands around that image. Often that means TV time. And at roughly '400,000 per 30-second spot, some of the biggest sponsors have already locked up every commercial slot in their product categories that NBC has to sell. Not everyone is convinced that the Games are worth the price of business admission. The biggest and most conspicuous naysayer is Nike. Its spokesman says: "If I see a Reebok official who may not be in the best shape firing the starting pistol and Carl Lewis wearing Nike shoes, I'm going to go with Carl because that's the authentic link." Nike's strategy is hard to argue with -- instead of sponsoring the Olympics, it sponsors Olympians.

Yet even Nike wants a piece of the Atlantic action. Along with some other non sponsors, Nike is trying to dot downtown Atlanta with billboards. Advertisement, it's another Olympic event.



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