Oct 13, 2009 at 09:46 PM
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Olympic Sponsorship Upheaval

In the wake of the 2016 Olympic announcement, it's been a whirlwind last few days for the Olympic movement. First came the near unanimous call for the USOC brass to step down and yesterday's report that the IOC plans to overhaul its marketing service group. But the most interesting news may have come from London, where The Evening Standard reports that Coca-Cola has protested LOCOG's negotiation with two grocery firms, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer, in their bid to become the official supermarket of London 2012.

If a solution is not found, The Evening Standard notes that LOCOG could realize a £20 million loss in potential revenue, around the same amount that Coca-Cola pays a year for global marketing rights.

A senior IOC source told The Evening Standard:

"Locog stands to get a new sponsor in the retail category which would be worth a lot of money to them. But there are concerns from Coca-Cola that there may be a violation of its rights. It's something the IOC is trying to work through."

At the root of the disagreement could be the use of the Olympic marks on competitive white-label supermarket products.

Just last week, LOCOG organizers revealed UPS as the 22nd major sponsor, while predicting that they would exceed sponsorship expectations for the 2012 Games.

The retail/supplier conflict will be a case to watch, as it could potentially shape an important precedent for category exclusivity negotiations across smaller properties.