Dec 07, 2011 at 02:32 PM
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Team USA, Sponsors Brief Congress On Ambush Marketing

The U.S. Olympic Committee yesterday hosted a panel discussion designed to educate Members of Congress about the ramifications of ambush marketing. The panel featured USOC Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Baird and USOC Associate General Counsel Kelly Maser, along with representatives from major Olympic and USOC partners.

"Sponsor support is critical to the success of Team USA athletes and we appreciate having these sponsors with us here today to reinforce the important topic of ambush marketing around the Olympic and Paralympic Movements," said Baird. "We are charged with protecting the Olympic brand, and this event today is part of a broad effort by the USOC and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic family to uphold the Olympic ideals and create stronger ambush protection for sponsors. When ambush marketing hurts our sponsors, it hurts America's elite athletes."

Marketers taking part in the panel included:

- John Lewicki - Head of Global Alliances, McDonald's

- Daniel McDermott - Vice President, Government Relations, Visa

- Bill Moseley - Director, Corporate Sponsorships, AT&T

- Dick Podiak - Director, Marketing, Adult Portfolio, Kellogg Company

The timing of the panel, coming with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games less than one year away, is meant to underscore the significance of the challenge facing brand managers and sponsors related to ambush marketing - a practice whereby brands not officially sponsoring with a property may attempt to establish an association in the minds of consumers through a variety of tactics.

"American companies play a significant role in supporting the USOC, Team USA, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games through official sponsorships," said Podiak. "As we approach the London Games, we feel it is important to discuss the threat of ambush tactics on these sponsorships that so significantly support the movement and our athletes, and employ preventative measures to protect them."

The USOC works closely with the individual National Governing Bodies of sport in the United States, and their respective partners, to limit ambush opportunities.

"As a co-chair of the Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus, I am a tremendous supporter of Team USA," said Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). "In Colorado, we are obviously big fans of skiing. We love our summer sports too and we are looking forward to the London Games. All Americans have a great sense of pride in our Olympic and Paralympic athletes and we all want to make sure there are no barriers to their success at the Games, either this summer or at future Games. Corporate sponsorships are one important element of the recipe for success. I am glad we had this briefing today to discuss ambush marketing and ways to curb its practice."