As big sponsors shrug off these bummer Olympics, small sponsors are feeling the hit

Friday, July 30, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks |

The Olympics of "meh"... The Olympics opening ceremony had the worst viewership in 33 years, but the sponsor bucks rolled in regardless. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) raked in a record $2B+ in global sponsorships for the Tokyo Games. Meanwhile, Japanese organizers secured $3.3B+ from 60+ local sponsors — more than 3X any previous Games. But since Tokyo banned IRL fans in stadiums, sponsors are taking a hit:

  • Bad timing: 80% of Japanese citizens didn't even want these pandemic Games to happen. To avoid bad press, Toyota pulled local ads while Asics scratched its ceremony.
  • Switching gears can be pricey: Most sponsors redid ad campaigns to make them pandemic-appropriate.

Not-so-blue for blue-chips... Local sponsors had one shot at Olympic marketing glory. Big global sponsors have several. The IOC requires its 15 official partners to commit to multiple Games. In return, they get global ad campaigns and other perks. Wild stat: Coke, Google, P&G, Toyota, and Samsung account for 93% of all Olympic ad spend.


Sometimes, smaller means bigger risks... All sponsors are cramped by Tokyo’s record-low viewership, but local sponsors are hurting the most. Japanese beer legend Asahi paid $135M to serve its brew to stadium fans – now it won’t pour a single lager. Small sponsors may think twice about spending on the 2022 Winter Games slotted for Beijing, which already face boycott calls around China’s human rights record.