Nike, the sportswear giant, is to replace its rival Reebok as
sponsor of the Sydney Olympic Games next year.
The move marks a radical departure for Nike in its marketing
It has never before sponsored a major global sporting event, having
favoured backing individual sportsmen, specific teams and the use of
unofficial or ’guerrilla’ marketing.
Nike will use the sponsorship to supply a range of performance products
to competing athletes. Leading players in the sportswear sector,
including Nike’s main rival Adidas, are moving toward the production of
authentic, high-performance clothing and footwear in a bid to improve
their brand credibility as they suffer mass market saturation.
Nike said the deal with the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic
Games (SOCOG) and the Australian Olympic Committee cost ’several million
It becomes the Games’ official sports brand and will also sponsor and
provide kit for the Australian team for the 2000 and 2004 Olympic
Nike steps into the breach after Reebok, whose deal was worth pounds
3.9m, last week withdrew its sponsorship of the games and launched a
court battle against SOCOG, alleging that the organisers planned to
allow other sports companies to sell products during the Olympics.
Philip Knight, Nike’s chief executive officer, said: ’Nike has always
been proud of its Olympic athletes and teams. Our partnership with the
Australian Olympic Committee brings this relationship to the next
Richard Pound, chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
marketing commission, said: ’We’re delighted with the way Nike has
stepped in to increase its support to athletes.’
The IOC said negotiations began with Nike only after Reebok announced
its decision. The prospect of a legal case still hangs over SOCOG, and
it plans to fight Reebok over its withdrawal.
The deal with Nike is a welcome piece of news for the Olympic
Problems with Reebok followed a series of bribery scandals over the 2002
Winter Games in Salt Lake City.