Get involved with Olympic process if you want to benefit from Games 

Whistler businesses should put on their thinking caps and come up with some ideas about how they can each benefit from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Then, said Linda Oglov of the 2010 Transition Team: "Pass those ideas along.

"I think there are ideas out there that the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games can't identify, and nobody may have identified yet, so people need to be part of the process."

Oglov, who was speaking at a standing room only Whistler Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday, said marketing strategies for Whistler, Vancouver and other areas are already underway.

It's hoped that sales will begin late this year or early in 2005.

"We could probably sell to the banking and telecom sectors today," said Oglov, but nothing can go ahead until the International Olympic Committee puts its stamp of approval on the plan.

The IOC and indeed the Vancouver OCOG are extremely protective of the Olympic brand.

Research shows that the brand is held in the same high regard as the Red Cross and UNICEF, two altruistic brands that have no "commercial" agenda.

The same IOC research found that the Olympic Games are also seen as competitive, festive, respectful, peaceful, multi-cultural, honourable and patriotic.

"The Olympic brand is considered the best known brand in the world," said Oglov who was vice-president for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

Because of this world-wide recognition it is a powerful tool to raise funds.

For example The Olympic Partners program (TOP) generated total revenues of $605 million US under the last agreement, which ends in 2004.

That is up from $95 million US raised for the Calgary Olympics in 1988, the first Games to have TOP sponsors.

The IOC distributes roughly half of the TOP revenue to the organizing committees of the corresponding Winter and Summer Olympic Games and approximately 40 per cent to the 199 National Olympic Committees. It retains the balance to help fund its support of the advancement of sport, athletes, and the Olympic values across the world.

Vancouver 2010 has already acquired all the Canadian Olympic Committee rights for 2005 to 2012. And Vancouver OCOG sales packages will include the rights to Canadian teams at Turin in 2006, Beijing in 2008, Vancouver in 2010 and the 2012 Olympic host.

In all the Vancouver OCOG must raise about $700 million domestically to operate the Games. The total operating budget is $1.38 billion. The other half will come from the OCOGs share of the IOC TV rights and the TOP program.

"It will be an ambitions, sleep-depriving project for those involved in it," said Oglov of the quest to raise the funds.

"It is not easy to get up to those numbers. But the magic of the Olympic five rings and the ability to convince the sponsors of the magic of Whistler and Vancouver will get us there."

The upper tier of national sponsors will each contribute $40 million. But many other sponsors will also be needed, contributing up to $15 million each.

This revenue can only be raised if the Olympic brand remains sought after and that means protecting it said Oglov. For that reason no one will be allowed to use the brand in Canada unless the Vancouver OCOG approves it.

For many Whistler businesses the best way to achieve success leading up to, during, and after the Games may be to attach themselves to a sponsor.

"If I were you I would be looking at where your opportunities lie with sponsors," said Oglov.

She pointed to the excellent relationship Tourism Whistler has developed with Visa Canada.

"This is a great place for sponsors to come and entertain guests," said Oglov adding that sponsors are keen to leverage their support of the Games with the own clients.

Work is also under way on a new logo, which will likely be unveiled in early 2005.

If you have ideas to pass on as Whistler develops its strategy contact Maureen Douglas at mo_whistler2010@telus.net

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