When you're talking about sports marketing, the Super Bowl reigns as the top event for immediate exposure. But if you're looking for an event with a long-term impact on a truly global stage, it would be hard to argue against the Olympics.
Bridgestone Corp. is banking on that appeal to pay off for its company and brands as it approaches its first Olympics as part of the Top Olympic Partners program, an exclusive club open to only 12 companies. It requires a steep investment, which includes not only the TOP sponsorship fee, estimated to cost upwards of $200 million over a four-year cycle, but also the advertising and marketing costs needed to fund the initiatives to leverage the opportunity.
Finding itself with some of the world's top companies and advertising spenders, Bridgestone looks at this as a way to build awareness for the firm around the world. It also believes the Olympics will help people associate the tire and rubber product giant with something bigger than just its businesses.
Bridgestone is two years into a 10-year TOP commitment that covers three summer and two winter games. After Rio, the next three Olympiads will take place in Asia, including the 2020 Summer Games in Bridgestone's home city of Tokyo.
But just being a TOP sponsor doesn't guarantee that Bridgestone will meet its marketing and outreach goals. It does provide a step up on the competition, ensuring worldwide International Olympic Committee rights, exclusive ability to use the Olympic name and the iconic five rings in its advertising, and exclusive advertising rights on NBC's Olympic coverage.
Bridgestone is early in its push in the TOP program and won't gain full global activation rights until 2017. During the games, it has marketing rights in Brazil, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. Bridgestone Americas has teamed up with six U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes, four of whom made the games.
The firm, though, knows it will be years before it realizes the full value of its TOP investment. To put it in Olympic terms, Bridgestone's efforts definitely aren't the 100-yard dash, but truly are a marathon.