Olympic Legacy: Is there a lasting impact for commercial sponsors?

small-ian-downby Ian Down, Partner

Tom Solesbury mentioned in passing one issue confronting many sports organisers behind Team GB since the London Olympics, with the confirmation that Siemens has not renewed its sponsorship of the GB Rowing Team, since it expired at the end of 2012.

There were always those who predicted a slump in sponsors of teams and event organisers “After the Lord Mayor’s Show” (as some have unkindly dubbed the London Olympics following Boris Johnson’s promotional escapades last summer), in spite of the much vaunted efforts to push for “Legacy”.

Others were more upbeat that sponsor-relations would endure as part of the “Legacy”, and perhaps justifiably so if you think that:

  • with “austerity” the watchword for some years leading up to the London Olympics, sponsors were already typically inclining towards cautious, strategic and long-term deals
  • all prospective sponsors of the London Games would have found out that LOCOG, in line with every other “OCOG” for previous Olympic Games, was always scheduled to exist only until December 2012, following which all their sponsor-licences would cease and with it the ability for sponsors to exploit the London Olympics-brand
  • even those drawn in to the sponsorship market for the first time by the London Olympics were unlikely to have done so through being caught by temporary euphoria. With a lead-in time of up to 4 years, they must have realised that there was no point in such a long-winded promotion for what, after all, was a glorified party – that would have been a bit like the father of the bride funding a lavish wedding knowing the split would be announced straight after the honeymoon!

The reality is harder to determine and reports are inevitably based on anecdotal evidence. But there is no doubt from what we have witnessed that it’s now even more a sponsor’s market and an excellent time for newcomers to take the plunge, naturally, only following suitable expert legal advice borne out of experience and expertise!

Ian is a partner and an expert in advertising, sponsorship and media matters.