The PeRiodic Table – the Science of Sponsorship at Rio 2016

Getting an Olympic Games right is rare alchemy. The Road to Rio has been long and hard for athletes, organisers and sponsors alike. In the seven years since it won the bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the country has experienced more than its fair share of drama: rioting around #changebrazil, a FIFA World Cup meltdown against Germany, the spectre of political corruption and the tragic emergence of Zika.Is the country really ready for the Games? Can the infrastructure hold up? Will the doping scandal forever tarnish Rio’s moment in the sun?

These will all have been questions and concerns for the sponsors of Rio 2016 – the 59 different brands that make up the four partnership tiers of the Games represent a unique ecosystem that has helped ROCOG meet its $570m target for sponsorship revenue and played a key role in making Rio a reality.

While sponsorship is never an exact science, Synergy’s PeRiodic Table is an interactive graphic that allows you to explore a little more about each of the brands that are part of the Games. From sponsorship category to Twitter following, our interactive infographic – designed to be sorted and filtered as you see fit – provides the chance to discover some of the stories hidden beneath the surface of Rio 2016’s sponsorship landscape. Click here for the full table.

Heritage Matters: whilst the entire list of brands is typically sorted in alphabetical order, it’s notable that Coca-Cola sits before either Atos or Bridgestone in the TOP sponsor hierarchy. This is a quirk of Coke’s gift of rights: they will always be the first-mentioned brand in the IOC’s sponsorship recognition programme, acknowledging a relationship stretching back to 1928.

If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It: at time of publishing this, only 11 of the 46 brands with an active Twitter handle featured Rio 2016 marques on their profile. A potential missed opportunity for lager brand Skol, whose Twitter presence has perhaps the most overt Olympic theme, but lacks any actual recognition of its officialdom.

Missing The Tweet Spot: although it’s true that not every brand has to have a Twitter footprint, it’s interesting to note the official sponsors without a social presence, or those that have failed to build one ahead of the Games. For international brands with only a local relationship (anyone outside the TOP sponsor tier) like Nike, Nissan or Airbnb, the use of Brazil-focused feeds is also worth noting. While likely to be down to the IOC’s commercial restrictions around the use of social media, it will be interesting to see how many of the global Twitter handles end up giving a RT to their local market counterparts.

Toyota Revs Up For Tokyo: although the brand signed up as one of the IOC’s new TOP sponsors back in 2015, Nissan were already a Tier 1 sponsor of Rio 2016. This means Toyota can only talk about Rio in Japan (something Nissan cannot officially do), before turning their global attention to Tokyo 2020 following the conclusion of the current Games.

Necessity Is The Mother Of Investment: the outbreak of Zika not only created valid concern amongst athletes and spectators, but also led to the signing of OFF! – the Games first ever insect repellent partner. It probably depends on your level of cynicism whether you think this was to ensure a consistent quality control in terms of the level of safety provided to participants and attendees, or simply to head off commercial concerns around ambush of the category by unofficial brands.

Have a play with the various filters and sorting methods at the top of the screen, and see what stories you can unearth within the PeRiodic Table.

Rule 40 Guessing Game For Brazil’s Rio 2016 Athletes

Here in Brazil, as we reach 100 Days To Go to Rio 2016, the Games buzz is growing, albeit overshadowed by the ongoing political and economic crisis and the latest and most Games-related tragedy in Rio.

Giovane Gavio, two-time Olympic champion and first Brazilian to carry the Rio 2016 torch (Embed from Getty Images)

But day in and day out, Brazilian TV channels are broadcasting test events, qualification events and press conferences. The Olympic Torch Relay starts next week. And of course, Brazilian athletes all over the country are getting ready for the Games.

But on one important front, our athletes face massive uncertainty. While the USOC and their counterparts around the world have released their new Rule 40 positioning, the Brazilian Olympic Committee has yet to confirm its policy. Even by Brazilian standards, this is very late.

With the Games being staged in their home country, many of our athletes have been able to land lucrative personal sponsorships, with some having signed ten or more brands as partners. However, right now, the athletes and their brand partners don’t know what they will be able to do – or not do – to activate their sponsorships before and during the Games.

So with 100 days to go to Rio 2016 and counting, you can add to all the uncertainties about the Games those of the Brazilian athletes, their agents, and sponsors about Rule 40. Watch this space.


Guilherme is the founder of Ativa Esporte, the Brazilian sports marketing consultancy, which is Synergy’s partner in Brazil.

What Tokyo 2020 Will Mean For Olympic & Paralympic Sponsorship

Following up on my analysis last week of the Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo sponsorship proposals in their 2020 bids, here's my take on what Tokyo’s emphatic victory in Buenos Aires on Saturday will mean for Olympic and Paralympic sponsorship.

1. Olympic Marketing will move into a distinctly Asian cycle after Rio 2016, with Rio being followed by Pyeongchang 2018 and now Tokyo 2020, offering Games partners the opportunity, as the Pyeongchang Games' leader pointed out in an interview with Reuters on Monday, to 'awaken Asia's great potential'.

2. An unintended consequence of Tokyo's win is that the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan now becomes much more strategically important. Brands locked out of Tokyo 2020 by category-exclusive global and domestic Olympic deals will view the RWC as a counter-attacking opportunity, and in turn I suspect many Tokyo Games sponsors will be tempted to add the RWC to their portfolios to block this.

3. As I noted last week, Tokyo’s business case, underpinned by the size and strength of the Japanese economy, was one of the trump cards in its bid, and it played a key part in its final presentation, with Tokyo bid leader Masato Mizuno skilfully emphasising the scale and commercial potential of the Asian and Japanese markets for the IOC and its stakeholders:"The Games will deliver the biggest live primetime TV audience in history, the biggest local ticketing market, and the greatest possible commercial success. Already, our bid has 21 corporate sponsors, and the IOC can focus on your own crucial programmes to promote Olympism worldwide."

4. For an early indication of some of the companies likely to populate the Tokyo 2020 domestic sponsorship programme, Tokyo's 21 corporate sponsors are a good primer as they were so closely aligned to many of the proposed categories in the Tokyo Candidate File.


5. Close the book on which category Tokyo 2020 will sign up first - but not which brand. One of Tokyo's bid sponsors, Toyota, stated last week that they intended to become the first Tokyo 2020 domestic sponsor if Tokyo won. A great gesture of support for the Tokyo bid, which will also have rung the bells at Nissan, sponsors of Rio 2016. Watch that space.

6. With that kind of competition likely in numerous categories, I'm sticking to the prediction I made last week that Tokyo will sell well over $1 billion of domestic sponsorship, and perhaps as much as $2 billion given favourable economic conditions.

7. There’s not much doubt which of the three rival cities Panasonic would have been rooting for, or that they will now be looking to quickly extend their IOC sponsorship to 2020: currently they are one of three of the ten IOC global sponsors whose current contract ends in 2016 rather than 2020. But with Sony's FIFA contract ending in 2014, and Russia and Qatar, er, beckoning if they renew, we could see Sony taking a run at Panasonic's IOC category.

8. The IOC's ten global sponsors always remain neutral about Host City bids, but I suspect that a poll of them on which city they preferred would have resulted in a split for first choice between Istanbul and Tokyo, with the B2C brands preferring Istanbul because of Turkey’s burgeoning youth market, the B2B brands favouring Tokyo as Japan is home to so many big businesses, and Madrid very much third owing to the weakness of the Spanish economy.

9. My colleague Alex Balfour, former London 2012 Head of New Media and now our Chief Digital Officer here at Engine, made these predictions on Twitter just after the IOC vote about what new technologies we were likely to see at the Tokyo Games:



10. I mentioned last week that I felt Tokyo stole a march on its rivals by looking at Paralympic sponsorship separately in its bid, earning it plaudits from IOC. This came strongly to mind when the wonderful Japanese Paralympian Mami Sato gave the most uplifting and inspirational of all the speeches in the 2020 bid presentations, about how sport saved her from despair after losing her leg to cancer. Japanese brands will no doubt have taken note, and as a result I'm sure that after the unprecedented success of London 2012, Tokyo 2020 will take the Paralympics to new marketing and sponsorship heights.