TicketManager | New Twists Added to Olympic Marketing Playbook

The Olympic Games occupy rarified air in sports marketing, generating billions of dollars in partnership revenue through agreements that rely almost exclusively on the value of associating with the imagery and IP of the Olympic movement rather than the tangible assets and inventory that are standard in every other rights holders’ sports sponsorship packages.

But even the paragon of partnership marketing cannot rest on its laurels in the face of dramatic changes in consumer behavior and attitudes, in particular sports fandom, as two developments this week attest.

First off, Samsung Electronics has announced partnerships with three sports leagues in support of its status as a worldwide Olympic and Paralympic partner.

Although many IOC TOP sponsors throughout the decades of the global program have signed deals with international federations and national sports governing bodies to activate their partnerships, Samsung’s latest agreements are notable because they are instead with professional leagues in the three sports, not Olympic-related organizations.

This is a smart move on the Korean conglomerate’s part for multiple reasons. Its deals with World Surf League, Street League Skateboarding and Pro Breaking Tour not only align Samsung with some of the newest and youth-focused Olympic sports, but also offer the ability to sustain the association after the Paris Games this summer.

Because these sports are so new on the Olympic scene, the development of their amateur structure and non-Olympic competition schedule is far behind those of established sports such as gymnastics, track and field and many others that offer high profile world championships and other events. Thus the pro-level WSL, SLS and PBT can provide much more marketing firepower than their amateur equivalents the International Surfing Assn., World Skate and World DanceSport Federation currently can.

Secondly, in addition to the IOC’s addition of sports like surfing, skateboarding and breaking to the Games as a way to attract young people, the organization has reached a global licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products that will see the popular Looney Tunes characters featured in a collection of official Olympic products.

Separately, WBDGCP has partnered with the organizing committees for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games and 2028 Olympic Games, as well as with the national Olympic committees for Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and Mexico to create country-specific Looney Tunes merchandise.

The deal to associate Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and their wacky compatriots with the five rings and the Olympic motto of Faster, Higher, Stronger just as strongly reflects the IOC’s need to increase relevancy with new generations of fans as does the addition of new and diverse sports.

As the Paris Games fast approach, there will surely be further actions by members of the Olympic movement and their corporate partners to further increase the appeal of the Games and Olympic sports among next-gen consumers.