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Bridgestone anticipates strong presence from Olympic sponsorship

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Christine Karbowiak Hiroshi Mouri Bridgestone
Photo by RPN photo by Bruce Meyer Christine Karbowiak of Bridgestone Americas chats with Hiroshi Mouri, president of Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology, after Karbowiak spoke the opening day of the ACS Rubber Division's meeting and expo.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—With the ink barely dry on its agreement to be a sponsor of the Olympic Games through 2024, Bridgestone officials already are starting on activities to help maximize the value of this effort.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to have the Olympics as a platform to help us truly globalize the Bridgestone brand,” said Christine Karbowiak, Bridgestone Americas executive vice president, chief administrative officer and chief risk officer.

She spoke about the efforts following her keynote address at the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference, held Oct. 14-16 in Nashville, Tenn.

Bridgestone Corp. signed the deal in June to be part of The Olympic Partners program, or TOP, for all Olympic Games—both summer and winter—through 2024. It makes Bridgestone the “official tire” of the Olympic Games, allowing it to supply tires to all Olympic vehicles.

“There are 11 of us (in the TOP) program,” Karbowiak said. “That's it. They limit this to the top brands in the world as they perceive them, and to organizations that share their focus on education, youth and sustainability.”

Under the deal, Bridgestone receives immediate sponsorship activation rights in Brazil, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. through 2016, allowing activities leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Starting in 2017, the sponsorship rights extend globally and run through 2024. That will cover the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and Olympic Games in 2022 and 2024 in cities that have not yet been selected.

“It's really going to be an opportunity to create a consistent global message that will really allow us to elevate the brand on a stage that we've never had before,” Karbowiak said.

Besides being the official tire, the agreement also covers seismic isolators manufactured by Bridgestone. “As the construction is being done, we will have the opportunity to work with local organizing committees on their infrastructure,” she said.

Much of the firm's activities are in the planning stages. Karbowiak said a trip to Rio in late October will enable the firm to meet with the organizing committee, along with other TOP sponsors. “For us, it's really going to be an opportunity to learn.”

Bridgestone's efforts will be global in nature. Its group CEO will lead a main steering committee that will include members—including Karbowiak—from all of its regional groups. Below that will be individual committees for the regions.

“The idea is that we share best practices and ideas,” she said. “We've really never been in a position where we've had such a truly global team working on a project. ... We're going to draw from the best and brightest that we have across the Bridgestone global group and populate those committees and those decision-making bodies with whoever is the best we have.”

Bridgestone Americas will take the lead on the games in Rio, while Japan will step forward for the games in South Korea and Tokyo. The lead group for 2022 and 2024 will depend on where those games are held, she said.