Winners of the Corporate Olympics
Matthew is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
As the Olympics begin to wind down, we start to think about some of the most memorable moments, celebrated athletes and Olympic heroes. American gymnast Gabby Douglass is certainly a fan favorite after her amazing performance. The reigning world’s fastest man, Jamaican Usain Bolt, is another. For the host country, Scotsman Andy Murray, with his win against Roger Federer, will likely be the biggest Olympic hero for the Brits. Over here in Japan, everybody is looking forward to the gold medal match between the US and Japanese women’s soccer teams on August 9th (a rematch of the World Cup).
With all of these great moments, it is easy to forget about the true heroes of the Olympics… corporate sponsors. Okay, so maybe “heroes” is a bit much. But despite the bemoaning by some of the intrusion of corporations in the Olympic Games, it is those very corporations that make the Olympics possible. Ever since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, the International Olympic Committee has relied on corporate sponsorship as an integral part of the financing of the Games. Today corporate sponsorship represents more than 40% of Olympic revenues. So let us take some time to celebrate these corporate sponsors. Join me over here for the corporate Olympics medal presentation ceremony.
Bronze Medal: Visa (NYSE: V)
The bronze medal goes to Visa, the largest payment processor in the world. Visa has been an Olympic sponsor for 25 years and is the exclusive payment card and official payment system of the Olympic Games. As the exclusive payment card, it is the only card accepted at any venue at the London Olympics (as well as every other summer and winter games through 2020). This arrangement can definitely be annoying for non-Visa card holders. But as the largest provider of credit and debit cards in the world, this generally is not a huge concern. In addition to sponsoring the games themselves, Visa provides financial support to thousands of Olympic hopefuls.
Silver Medal: McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD)
The silver medal is awarded to another great American company, McDonald’s, the official restaurant of the Olympics. Although McDonald’s official sponsorship began in 1976, McDonald’s has been involved unofficially before this. A popular story out of the 1968 French Winter Olympics is that US athletes were so homesick for McDonald’s food that the company airlifted burgers from America to France. This Olympics, the company has been showcasing its ‘Under 400-Calorie’ menu to combat its critics. A seemingly successful campaign to educate customers about their healthy menu options, a menu comprising 80% of items under 400-calories.
Gold Medal: The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO)
Gold medal winner Coca-Cola is the longest standing corporate sponsor of the Olympics. The relationship with the Olympics began in 1928 with their delivery of 1,000 cases of Coca-Cola by boat to Amsterdam. This corporate sponsorship as continues uninterrupted for now 84 years. This relationship is scheduled to continue through at least 2020 (and will likely continue for much longer given Coca-Cola's history with the Olympics). Today, The Coca-Cola Company is the official non-alcoholic beverage company of the Olympic Games.
Congratulations to our corporate medal winners, as well as all the other participants. Without their sponsorship, these games would not be possible. (Applause)
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