The first use of sport for promotional purposes was recorded in the late 1800s when New England railroad officials sponsored a crew competition between Yale and Harvard. Corporate sponsorship continued throughout the decades that followed, however, the most significant impact of corporate involvement in sport to date occurred with the 1984 Olympic Games.
In an effort to finance the 1984 Games, the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee looked to Corporate America. Coca-Cola was reported to have paid $3 million for the privileged title of “official soft drink” of the Los Angeles Olympic. Before Coca Cola’s revolutionary commitment to the sport, corporations were finding increasing difficulty when developing a marketing niche.
The 1980s became a period of intense competition in marketing and promotions due impart to the evolving world of information clutter. Telos Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee created opportunities for companies to exchange cash, goods, or services for the use of the Olympics as a communication tool. Companies were quick to take advantage of the chance to advertise and promote their products via the Olympic platform. As a result, the 1984 Olympics generated a profit of $230 million, and the 1984 Games became known as the “corporate Olympics”.
The number of companies that became involved in sponsorship and the profit generated from the 1984Olympics created a new problem of clutter in sport sponsorship. As a result of this advertising and sponsorship clutter, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instituted The Olympic Program (TOP) for the 1988 Games. The system limited the number of sponsors, improved the benefits, and required more money from sponsors. TOP proved to be a success in 1988 with research indicating “significant improvements in product image” for TOP members. The result for the IOC was over $120 million from 9 corporate sponsors.
By 1992 the number of companies allowed had grown to 12. Each sponsor was required to make a commitment of at least $10 million. For the1996 Summer Games, Olympic officials reportedly have asked for $40 million from each company. That figure is 10times what a 1984 sponsor contributed and nearly 7 times what the average 1992 Summer Games’ sponsors paid.