‘The biggest mistake was to call it sponsorship’

Michael Payne has been at the forefront of the sports marketing industry for over thirty years – having lead the global marketing effort for the Olympic Movement for more than two decades as the IOC’s first Marketing and Broadcast Rights Director, generating more than US$15 billion in broadcast and marketing revenues. On leaving the IOC, […]


The IOC’s new TOP deal, which brings together The Coca-Cola Company and Chinese dairy giant Mengniu in a new joint category, has been launched with the fanfare of a US$3bn total investment in the partnership, including a commitment to unprecedented online promotional spend. The values represented by the IOC are canonical, which perhaps explains why […]

The challenges facing Partners of Tokyo 2020

Organising Committees famously misrepresent the value of Olympic Partnership. ‘The country needs you to step up.’ ‘It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.’ ‘The Prime Minister needs your help on this one.’ And the favourite: ‘It will be so good for your business.’ In London, LOCOG employed McKinsey to develop an elegantly simple model to […]

Alfred Kelly’s big decision

McDonald’s exit from sponsorship at the TOP echelon of Olympic partnership created a media opening for anti-IOC narrative. But the sponsorship issue that McDonald’s exit raises is not about the travails of the IOC, it’s about whether or not the sponsorship of both the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games can be justified – […]

McDonalds and the IOC: fake news from the FT

McDonald’s departure from the IOC TOP programme has provoked much commentary. Of course, big sponsorship news always attracts its fair share of clichéd reflection and the departure of McDonald’s from TOP is very big news in the sponsorship industry. But it’s been particularly interesting to observe, especially in the context of fake news. The worst […]

If a leaf falls in the forest … will the IOC hear it?

If you work in the sponsorship industry for any length of time you will know that there are three hardy perennial media questions. These are: Francisco Goya has won the World Championship: what does that do to his sponsorship value? Francisco Goya has been accused of adultery on an unprecedented scale: what does this do […]

The Olympic Baby

We were a little surprised when we saw the IOC was planning on reforming its Rule 40. Rule 40 currently imposes commercial purdah on Olympians for nearly a month around the Games, preventing any use of name or likeness in association with non-Games partners. Penalties for contravention include disqualification and stripping of medals (although the reality […]

LOCOG’s sponsorship mistake

The Greenwash Gold campaign, which seized on Dow Jones and lumped together BP and Rio Tinto to create a rogue’s gallery of London 2012, signally failed to attract consumer support. While LOCOG played the British card of staunch support extremely well, and the campaign has left barely a reputational scuff, one element though, Redmandarin would […]

Spinning the TOPs

The IOC’s TOP programme is clearly in rude good health. With seven out of 11 partners confirmed until 2020, the IOC can congratulate itself on having established itself clearly as the premier global property. The presence of businesses such as GE, P&G and Dow Chemical in the TOP programme further testifies to a value which […]

The Olympic story

Brand storytelling is back – bigger than ever. First time around for me was business author, Tom Peters. His original pitch was about corporate myth-making: the conscious creation of those symbolic stories which so effortlessly epitomise an attitude or a principle: Lou Gerstner forcing the IBM Board to abandon the powerpoint in favour of the […]