The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olympics Marketing

Does your sponsorship strategy have what it takes to win at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

By Mark Harrison


Promoted article

February 13, 2020 | 5 min read

Sponsored by:

What's this?

Sponsored content is created for and in partnership with an advertiser and produced by the Drum Studios team.

Find out more

The bio-rhythm of global sponsorship marketing is tethered to the greatest international stage of them all - The Olympic Games. And Tokyo 2020 will not only be the first Olympic Games of this decade; they will also be the most commercially dominant and transformational in history.

Prepare your sponsorship strategy for 2020

Prepare your sponsorship strategy for 2020

To date, the Tokyo Games have generated $3.1bn in sponsorship revenue, eclipsing the past record of $1.1bn for the Rio Games in 2016. With Intel as an official partner, technology will dominate the field with 3D Athlete Tracking, 5G and Virtual Arenas – applications which the generation of cellular technology is eagerly awaiting. Tokyo 2020 will not only signal the beginning of a new decade; these games will usher in a new age in marketing history.

Welcome to ERA 2020

Are you ready? Is this another era where your sponsorship portfolio will be successful because you have implemented the latest tech activation? Have you crafted the greatest content or have been on-trend and found the hottest new festival?

Sponsorship marketers need to consider these key tensions in 2020:

  • What will your brand stand for in the next decade?
  • Do your consumers understand your purpose? Do your employees?
  • How do you balance sustainability and climate issues with the experience economy?
  • Technology continues to blow apart the old media and distribution models. How will your legacy partnerships exist?
  • In this new era, where you are competing and where are you collaborating?
  • What answers do you have for the consumer who is demanding more engagement than ever?
  • What is more important to your business - technology or psychology?
  • Will the 2020’s roar like the 1920’s?

I suspect the top Olympic sponsors such as Visa, Intel, GE, Airbnb and Alibaba are grappling with these issues and more. The campaigns they and National Olympic Committee partners will be deploying will be some of the best the world has ever seen – this comes from an understanding of how to partner with the Olympics.

The five key pillars to partnering with a property such as the Olympics:

1. Borrow equity from the property, in this case, The Olympics.

Define what value alignment you can achieve between the movement and your brand that will help solidify your purpose, add to your DNA, and become intrinsically linked.

2. Not only do you need to tell stories, but you need to story-do.

Content is the most powerful activation platform you can deploy, but today’s consumers expect you to walk the walk daily rather than broadcast a story.

3. Engage stakeholders. From customers to government officials - engage across your entire ecosystem. That includes internally and externally; local and globally; corporately and community.

4. Proof. There are two broad areas you should evaluate. The first is what did the sponsorship do for my business? The second, what did the sponsorship do for my planet?

5. Get your boss promoted. “Stop right there” you might say. “What does that mean?” It means your job as a sponsorship marketer is to champion your sponsorships, engage your enterprise, and demonstrate how your portfolio is performing. Do all of that and it will be more than just your boss who gets promoted.

SponsorshipX on-site at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

My team and I will be onsite in Tokyo facilitating SponsorshipX - an immersive sponsorship marketing conference occurring during the Tokyo games. Not only will participants hear from key Olympic partners such as Coca-Cola and Visa - to understand the impact of their global campaigns - but they will also experience onsite brand activations and live zones. If you want, I will share my perspective on who best applied this approach to their campaigns.

When I began talking about Olympic sponsorship you were probably hoping for a little Gold-Silver-Bronze. That structured logo painting approach is not the sponsorship portfolio your brand needs in 2020. You need an approach that will tackle the tensions that exist in the market with a robust approach to navigate.

You now have an entire decade to make it happen. Are you ready?

Mark Harrison, founder, SponsorshipX



Twitter: @SponsorshipX

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olympics Marketing

More from Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +