When the Olympics kick off, it will be the third time they've been hosted by London. When the last Games were held there in 1948, World War II and its devastation were still a fresh memory. The man instrumental in bringing them back to his home country is former Olympic champion and organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe, one of the greatest middle-distance runners of all time.
The Games would not be possible without the sponsorship of some of the world's biggest corporations. They provide nearly half of the necessary financing. Beyond the money, they also supply product support and technical services to the event venues. The official sponsors are divided into four tiers that determine their marketing rights and usage of Olympic marks and images. The five top-tier companies that follow are Worldwide Partners and are granted exclusive rights within their designated product category.
The world's most recognized brand also has the longest continuous corporate involvement with the Olympic Games. Its sponsorship dates back to the 1928 Games in Amsterdam where it first provided its iconic beverage to spectators and athletes. As an official Worldwide Partner in London, it's the exclusive product provider in the non-alcoholic beverage category. It formed that alliance in 1986 when it became a charter member of The Olympic Partner (TOP) Program. The company has created and sponsored events in host cities and partners with national committees to support teams and athletes in about 190 countries. Its partnership with the International Olympic Committee currently extends through 2020.
McDonald's first arrived on the Olympic scene in 1968 at the Winter Games. The U.S. athletes said they were homesick for McDonald's food, and the company responded by airlifting hamburgers into Grenoble, France. It became an official sponsor in 1976 and has continued its close association ever since. As an official Worldwide Partner in London, it's the exclusive product provider in the retail food services category. As the Official Restaurant of the Olympics, it will serve the athletes, spectators, coaches, staff and media on the Olympic site. The famous golden arches will continue to be visible at the Games for years to come as McDonald's has also extended its sponsorship through 2020.
The baritone voice of Morgan Freeman will again be used in voiceovers for the popular Visa Olympic advertisements. His moving narrations of historic Olympic moments have grabbed the attention of fans the world over, and Visa is again looking to capitalize as a Worldwide Partner in London. It's also the exclusive product provider in the consumer payment systems category, including credit cards.
Visa joined the TOP Program in 1986 as a charter member and has actively supported athletic programs in many countries. Other programs have informed boys and girls worldwide about the values, ideals and history of the Olympic movement. Fans can encourage and cheer for their favorite athletes on the company's Facebook page, and some of them may appear on YouTube as well.
With only three exceptions, the Swatch Group has provided timing services for every Olympics since the 1932 Los Angeles Games. The company is the world's largest watchmaker, and Omega is one of its 18 major brands. Its distinctive logo is seen at every event where timekeeping is necessary, giving it almost continuous exposure to the viewing public. Omega is the exclusive product provider in the timepiece category which includes electronic timing system services, countdown clocks, time scoring, scoreboard systems, clocks and watches. The company became a Worldwide Partner in 2004 and will remain one through at least 2020.
GE's presence is more behind the scenes than many of the other major sponsors. It provides much of the infrastructure needed to stage the events, including transportation services, water treatment, power and lighting. It also supplies imaging equipment and electronic medical record technologies to hospitals and Olympic medical facilities to ensure prompt treatment of the athletes. GE is a Worldwide Partner and exclusive product provider in several categories related to medical technology, energy generation and distribution, lighting systems, water treatment, and transportation systems. It works very closely with the organizing committee and city officials to ensure a coordinated effort to produce the Games.
The Olympics represent an unrivaled international marketing platform that features a half million spectators and a worldwide television audience in more than 200 countries. With over 300 events covering 26 sports. The Olympics provide a unique opportunity for companies to showcase products and capabilities on a grand scale that can't easily be duplicated.