UPS to ‘deliver' London Olympics in 2012

The Sandy Springs-based shipping giant had much the same role at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the company helped get into place everything from television broadcast equipment to the drums used in the opening ceremonies.

UPS announced the 2012 Games deal Wednesday in London.

An in-kind sponsorship means UPS will pay largely through services provided, rather than cash. But it will only be able to use the Olympic rings on business cards and advertising within the United Kingdom.

It's considered a third tier sponsorship in the global Olympic movement, said Jim Andrews, vice president of IEG, a Chicago-based sports marketing firm. Top global Olympic sponsors include Visa, McDonald's and Coca-Cola. Top London sponsors include Adidas, BP and British Airways. Other third tier sponsors include Cadbury, Cisco and Deloitte. Atlanta-based Home Depot announced earlier this year that it would not continue as a global Olympic sponsor.

In addition to exposure in the United Kingdom, UPS also will have access to other Olympic sponsors that are potential customers, Andrews said. Luring just one multi-million dollar account away from FedEx, for example, could be a good return on investment, he said. UPS can also use the event to woo big clients, said Andrews, with hospitality at the Games.

Dan Brutto, president of UPS International, said there's a value in getting the company's brand in front of the European Union as well.

UPS abandoned top-tier, full Games sponsorships after the 2000 Olympics in Australia because the company felt it was already an established worldwide brand.

Now the company evaluates Olympic sponsorships case-by-case. It skipped the Athens Games, for example.

But in Beijing, Brutto said, the

logistics sponsorship opened doors to both government and business as the company tries to infiltrate a fragmented and highly regulated delivery market.

He hopes for similar results in London, which also has a fragmented package delivery market.

“London for us is not a mature market, even though we’ve been there since the 1980s,” said Brutto. He said no carrier has more than 20 percent of the market.

He hopes the sponsorship also will give UPS a higher profile in the rest of Europe.

“A lot of customers who don’t know us in Europe will say, ‘What have you done? Show us something you’ve done?’” said Brutto. “And we can say we delivered the Olympics.”