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  • Sponsor Spotlight: Protests Coming


    Second Sponsor Report Coming in March

    Olympic sponsors that receive failing grades for their efforts to pressure China on the issue of genocide in western Sudan will be targets for demonstrations, according to the advocacy group Dream for Darfur.

    "We are not asking these companies to boycott or withdraw from the Games. We are saying that in the face of a genocide, corporate sponsors have a privileged role with the Olympic host. If sponsors call on China to act, Beijing will feel a growing – and necessary – pressure to act," Jill Savitt, executive director of Dream for Darfur, said in a statement.

    The New York-based organization said last week that it will issue its second so-called report card on how it views sponsors’ efforts to help end the violence in Darfur. The report card is due next month; no dates for demonstrations have been announced.

    While some sponsors declined to respond to the group’s latest announcement, a spokeswoman for one privately tells Around the Rings they continue to communicate with the IOC on the subject.

    At least two sponsors indicate they believe Darfur is best left in the hands of diplomats.

    In a statement emailed to ATR, spokesman Walt Riker says, "We continue to feel strongly that the only real progress that can be made in Darfur is at the United Nations and government levels where they can appropriately drive discussions, diplomacy and solutions. These bodies are best positioned to determine and implement a course of action that holds the greatest promise for success in the region, a hope that we all share.”

    Kodak Chairman and CEO Antonio M. Perez earlier sent the group a letter that said in part, "We have worked with the government in China since 1998, helping to rebuild their consumer photography industry," wrote in a letter addressed to the non-profit.

    "In that time, we have learned that while business sometimes has a voice with government in China, the voices of multi-national political leaders, such as the U.N., resonate loudest.”

    In November, Dream for Darfur – an activist group that seeks to end genocide in western Sudan – issued its first “report card”. In the report, 16 of 19 major sponsors were given Ds or Fs for their efforts. The organization has asked Olympic sponsors to bring up Darfur with their contacts in China and the IOC, as well as to appoint personnel to look into how to resolve the genocide before the Games, as well as other public efforts.

    Speaking to reporters at a BOCOG press conference Wednesday, marketing director Yuan Bin said "not a single sponsor told us it plans to quit the marketing program or stop supporting these Olympic Games."

    For more information about Dream for Darfur, click here

    Manulife Builds on Its Brand Promise

    TOP sponsor Manulife has launched a new Olympic-themed TV commercial that promotes its slogan "Bringing Dreams to Life."

    "The values that the Games represent -- striving to be the best, teamwork and pride in one’s community -- are also the ones we at Manulife believe in and treasure," says Michael Huddart, Manulife’s executive vice president and general manager, Hong Kong, of the campaign.

    "We will be sparing no expense to promote these Games, and Manulife’s promise, in this Olympic year.”

    The TV commercial will be aired in China on cable networks, and TVB's Jade and Pearl channels. Campaign ads also will run in print media and subway stations across China. Manulife has opted not to renew its sponsorship after this year.

    Sponsor Briefs…

    Toby Marcham, Indoor Sports Group marketing manager for Dunlop Slazenger International and WSF Chief Executive Christian Leighton. (WSF/Steve Line)
    The World Squash Federation signed a new five-year sponsorship agreement with its long-standing sponsor, Dunlop Slazenger International . Dunlop will be the Official Ball of the WSF through 2012. The two companies began their partnership in 1991.

    "This deal demonstrates commitment from corporate sponsors to our ambition to join the Olympics," WSF President Jahangir Khan tells Around the Rings.

    "We both recognize the role that Squash currently plays within the Olympic Movement and appreciate the additional potential opportunities if Squash were included on the program of 2016. It is all about continuously growing our base of loyal players for the benefit of a more active, healthier and happier society," he continues.

    The catwalk calls for Olympic accessories. PUMA , which
    The so-called Medallion Bag will be available in gold, silver and bronze. (Puma)
    sponsors 15 national Olympic teams, including Jamaica, Sweden and Morocco, announced Feb. 20 the winners of a Beijing-inspired accessories competition at London Fashion Week.

    The competition called for a luxury accessory that will hold PUMA's new shoe, USAN, part of PUMA's 2008 RUNWAY campaign. The winning design, the Medallion Bag, will be produced and sold worldwide in PUMA Concept Stores, beginning in August.

    Nike signed a deal with France's national soccer team to become the team's official kit provider beginning in 2011 . That will end the 37-year sponsorship between Adidas and the French Football Federation.

    Atos Worldline, an Atos Origin Company, partnered up with Commerzbank AG to offer a new eBay credit card, which can be used immediately after applying for eBay purchases. The companies also extended their existing partnership until 2010.

    Chinese automaker Chery will be the first-ever Chinese brand to car provide service for the Olympic Games . The company will offer 50 hybrid vehicles for Olympic traffic service during the Beijing Olympics.

    Written by Laura Grundy

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