Olympics: The Real Issues are not Pollution and Censorship

In the Hutong

I really need a fridge in this office

0939 hrs.

The folks at Advertising Age have asked me to contribute to their Olympic blog over the next couple of weeks, and my first post dove into an issue that I’ve been looking at for six months, namely whether Beijing may mark the end of what I have come to call the “Uberroth-Samaranch Model” of Olympic finance built largely on the pillars of private sponsorships and the sale of broadcast rights.

In the piece, I lay out five questions that will probably not be answered when the Olympic torch is finally extinguished on the 24th, and that together suggest it is time for the IOC to reexamine the way it does business, much as it did in the wake of the financially disastrous XXI Olympiad in Montreal in 1976.

Travel mogul Peter Uberroth, who took the reins of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) in 1979, was given one major goal: help Los Angeles avoid Montreal’s debacle. The fact that Los Angeles already boasted a host of sports venues helped, but Uberroth was the first to systematize sponsorships and to price television rights to their market value. Since the Los Angeles Games (which turned a $250 million profit), those two revenue streams have done much to sustain the Olympics.

Much has happened since, not just in the Olympics movement, but in the marketing business and the television industry. Uberroth’s model may be past its prime.

Check out the article on AdAge.