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Dow Takes The Olympic Podium

Branding: Company says Olympic sponsorship is good for its business and its image

by Alexander H. Tullo
July 26, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 30

Credit: Dow
Liveris (left) and IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge announce Dow’s sponsorship.
Credit: Dow
Liveris (left) and IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge announce Dow’s sponsorship.

The Olympics now has an official “chemistry company.”

Dow Chemical has signed up to become a Worldwide Olympic Partner as part of The Olympic Partners Program (TOP) of the International Olympic Committee. By participating in TOP, Dow joins some of the world’s biggest consumer companies, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, General Electric, and Samsung.

Dow will participate in the program until 2020, partnering with IOC and national Olympic committees for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games in London and Rio de Janeiro, respectively; the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014; and games in yet-to-be-determined venues in 2018 and 2020.

Dow and IOC won’t say how much Dow is paying for the privilege. However, according to IOC documents, each of the 12 TOP partners that participated in the winter games in Turin, Italy, and the summer games in Beijing paid an average of $72 million over the four-year period.

The sponsorship will give Dow a leg up in supplying materials to the host cities, which will spend some $150 billion in infrastructure and other projects to prepare for the games, says Dow spokesman Greg Baldwin. “Dow will have preferential access to all the projects in the host cities, but we have to be competitive,” he says. “All the rules of fair trade apply.”

Through 2020, the company estimates, the use of Dow products in paints, insulation, and other Olympic building materials could amount to $1 billion in new revenue.

Dow CEO Andrew N. Liveris says the sponsorship is the right decision in light of Dow’s recent purchase of Rohm and Haas and its evolution into a more science-focused firm. “Our association with the Olympics will present Dow with tremendous new business opportunities, making this partnership a powerful growth catalyst that comes at the right time in our company’s strategic transformation,” he says.

Dow’s Olympic partnership makes sense from a public relations standpoint, according to Michael Kilfoy, principal and creative director of Maplewood, Mo.-based branding firm Studio X. “They want to get the message out that they are using their technology for human advancement,” he says.



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