September 5 - Ten of the top 15 brands associated with Sochi 2014 are non-Olympic partners, according to a new report that highlights the challenges faced by official Games partners in the battle against ambush marketing.
"Sochi 2014 Ambush Marketing Outlook", published by media tracking company Global Language Monitor, indicates that P&G, Samsung and General Electric currently lead the ten worldwide partners but trail behind non-affiliated firms such as Philips, Siemens and Adidas with less than six months to next year's Winter Games.
In the same top 20 list of the report - which analysed how often brand names were linked to the Olympics in global print and electronic media and social networks, worldwide Olympic partners occupied the bottom five places.
Moreover, some of the non-official partners identified as having an association with Sochi 2014 compete head to head with worldwide Olympic partners in the marketplace, such as IBM Global Services - a competitor of Atos Origin, Pepsi and Red Bull versus Coca-Cola, and DuPont against Dow Chemical.
This "ambush marketing" can mount to hundreds of millions of dollars in value, according to Global Language Monitor, which puts the cost of being an official Olympic partner as almost $1 billion (£640 million/€760 million) over each four-year Olympiad.
"The Olympics have the ability of make, break, energise, or hasten the decline of global brands," said Global Language Monitor President and chief word analyst Paul JJ Payack.
"As they become an ever larger presence in an ever more wired world their importance to the global marketing community will only increase in new [and possibly disruptive] ways.
"Successfully affiliating one's brand with the Olympics can result in billions of dollars in revenue differential."
Meanwhile, the story is not too far different for Rio 2016, with non-affiliated brands leading official Olympic partners by a margin of approximately 3:1.
Although Global Language Monitor said that there appeared to be a serious "value leak" of Olympic brand equity, not all the non-affiliated firms were deliberately trying to link their names to the Games, with some companies already being particularly active in several sports.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has strict regulations in place to protect its official international partners and prevent non-sponsors from getting free publicity on the back of the Games - Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter prohibits athletes from advertising for non-official sponsors during the Games.
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