How can we grade this unusual Olympics?

By Rick Burton and Norm O’Reilly

You’re watching the Tokyo Olympic on NBC, right?

We certainly are and in anticipation of the IOC’s huge global audience and the first-ever no-spectator Games (digitally delivered on various platforms), we decided we’d ask you to undertake an interactive exercise with us. One where you become part of a research project and contribute data in real time.

Why do this? Well, we couldn’t help but ask how the big brands associated with Tokyo 2020/21 are performing during a time of deep scrutiny due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In some parts of the world, brands are getting pressured to not participate in the Games.

In this context, the Tokyo Summer Olympics have emerged as the most unusual Games ever. That’s why we want you to help us grade the biggest stakeholders or investors.

Many don’t realize it, but there are thousands of brands actively vying for attention in Japan and around the world. They are attempting to optimize their brand values in authentic and passionate ways, particularly given Tokyo’s current pandemic reality.

We’ll start with the biggest brand of them all, the IOC. This Swiss-based sports property is the keeper of the Olympic flame, the household Olympic brand. They are managing the Olympics brand.

Then, we move to the more than 200 national Olympic committees (e.g.,  USOPC, COC, Australian Olympic Committee), and the dozens of broadcasters (NBC Sports, CBC Sports, Eurosport, etc.) that are televising the action. These are brands as well, although they usually enjoy unique exclusivity in their respective home countries.

From the corporate side, we have the IOC’s global sponsors (i.e., Coca-Cola, Visa, Toyota) as well as more than 75 domestic sponsors of the Games in Japan, made up of 15 gold sponsors (North Americans might recognize Canon, Asahi, Asics, NEC and Fujitsu), 32 official partners and 20 official supporters.

Plus, there are 33 sports (sanctioned by international federations), 339 events, thousands of national governing bodies (think USA Gymnastics) and more than 11,000 Olympians trying to monetize their names, images and likenesses.

By our count, that suggests approximately 12,000 brands trying to financially leverage the roughly 4 billion viewers who are watching some portion of the Tokyo Games in one of more than 50 languages via public, cable or social media.

To help you, we built a table of the 15 TOP sponsors seeking to globally activate around their major sponsorship investments. You’ll note we left Tokyo’s domestic sponsors off the list as their focus is Japan only. That’s coverage most of us can’t watch or judge.

But then we threw in a few extras. The IOC, USOPC, NBC Sports, Nike, Kevin Durant, Simone Biles and USA Swimming. Unique brands that aren’t sponsors. You may think of some we missed.

With your list in hand, you can get down to the nitty gritty. How many of these brands are generating a positive return on investment (ROI) or return on objectives (ROO)? How many of their executives are sitting here today (during the first week of August), perhaps reading this column, going, “Yeah, we nailed it.”

On the other hand, how many are about to lose their jobs because the board of directors (who didn’t get any hospitality or VIP treatment in Tokyo) is determining that investing in the Tokyo Games was a mistake? That their marketers misused this global opportunity? Maybe they’ll suggest too much money or time was invested and that the Olympics didn’t provide the sales lift promised back before the pandemic changed everyone’s plans.

We get that you don’t know how much each sponsor spent, but if you start with the premise they spent a lot, you should be able to make an educated guess on whether they get a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

What we want you thinking about is how much you’ve seen of these brands (on TV, on the internet, on social media, at retail, etc.) and provide your personal assessment of each brand’s performance. You won’t have to do much. Just give us a sense of what you think. Which of the brands below stood out? Which brands got their money’s worth?

In the table below, you are providing a score for each brand (1 to 10, with 10 being the best).This will allow us (at a later date) to suggest the big winners were selected by the experts who read this journal.

We’ll grant, for all the cynics, this research is informal and the model (or vehicle) is flawed. But real-time reporting is the way of the future and everyone who reads Sports Business Journal fancies themselves enough of an expert to pick the best horses.

Let us know who you think is getting it done. Who is “killing” it. And why. If not for us, then do it for your own peace of mind. It will give you an opinion when you get asked at the water cooler or the places where you are allowed to congregate.

Rick Burton (rhburton@syr.edu) is the David B. Falk Professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University and SU’s faculty athletics representative (FAR) to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Norm O’Reilly (norman.oreilly@maine.edu) is dean of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Maine and partner consultant at The T1 Agency

CLICK HERE to cast your scores online.

Questions about OPED guidelines or letters to the editor? Email editor Jake Kyler at jkyler@sportsbusinessjournal.com

SBJ I Factor: Miheer Walavalkar

Today’s episode features Miheer Walavalkar, co-founder and CEO of LiveLike, talking with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about growing up in India, his non-traditional path into the sports industry, building a company based on the communal sports experience, and his friendship with legendary NBA Commissioner David Stern. Walavalkar was a member of SBJ’s Forty Under 40 class of 2018.

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: November 16, 2021

Meet the Mets new GM, Endeavor beat the Street in Q3 and Guaranteed Rate expands its sports sponsorship portfolio.

SBJ Spotlight: November 10, 2021

This episode looks at the hottest news in the industry, including how sports deal are helping crypto enter the mainstream; the NFL’s social push and the buy-in from players; why so many networks are bidding for next Premier League rights deal; and Angel City FC’s hot start on the business front.

Shareable URL copied to clipboard!

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2021/08/02/Opinion/BurtonOReilly.aspx

Sorry, something went wrong with the copy but here is the link for you.

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2021/08/02/Opinion/BurtonOReilly.aspx

CLOSE