USOC teams with NBC to secure Citi as bank sponsor

March 10, 2011
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The U.S. Olympic Committee filled a major hole Thursday on the sponsorship landscape, teaming with Olympic broadcaster NBC to add Citi as the primary partner in its banking category, a lucrative deal worth a projected $30 million through the 2012 London Games.

Citi will serve as sponsor for about 575 Americans in London, with the New York-based financial services company, on solid footing after a 2008 bailout by the U.S. government, gaining access to the five-ring Olympic logo and air time during the Olympics, a first for the USOC and NBC in a new collaboration that combines marketing and media rights.

When the USOC welcomed online broker TD Ameritrade into the fold last month, it also joined forces with NBC on the agreement, which also lasts until 2012, the final year that NBC is on contract to televise the Olympics – bidding for the 2014 Sochi Games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games should begin later this year. The USOC still wants a wealth management partner in its banking portfolio, and it probably will again work with NBC.

Most top-tier USOC sponsorships bring more than $10 million over four years, and Bank of America paid the Colorado Springs-based organization between $12 million and $15 million the last four years of a 16-year pact that ended following the 2008 Beijing Games. USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird dubbed the signing of Citi a “significant deal,” and it carries a higher price tag despite a shorter timeframe because of the NBC ad buys.

“Citi is a market leader,” said Baird, whose latest addition puts the USOC at 26 sponsors, including AT&T, Coca-Cola, General Electric, McDonald’s and Visa. “And it’s helpful when we have market leaders who are going to use their marketing and activation plans to convey our messaging, to showcase our athletes, to support the Olympic movement.”

The sponsorship will allow Citi “to express appreciation to the American people for their support of our company – not only in recent years, but throughout our 200-year history,” said Ed Skyler, executive vice president for global public affairs for Citi. “The rings are a symbol of something very special,” he added, “and we want to respect that.”

Skyler said the “innovative partnership” with the USOC and NBC pooling efforts created “an efficient and practical approach, and it certainly made it an easier decision for us.” A package of essentially shared resources by the USOC and NBC has been met with “a lot of good response,” Baird said. “With a sponsor … they see the flexibility it gives them.”

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