Will advertisers’ gamble on the Tokyo Olympics pay off?

Tokyo raised $3B+ from local sponsors, while major global brands have chipped in $500m+. They probably won’t get their money’s worth this year.

After being postponed last summer, the Tokyo Summer Olympics are slated to start on July 23.

Will advertisers’ gamble on the Tokyo Olympics pay off?

There’s a big problem, though: A lot of people don’t want it to happen.

According to The Economist, 50%+ of Japanese citizens want the games to be postponed again. Due to COVID, parts of Japan are still in a state of emergency, and it’s not even clear if fans can attend.

Big money is on the line

To host the games, Tokyo was able to raise:

  • A record $3B+ from dozens of (mostly domestic) brands including Japan Airlines, Toyota, and Canon
  • $500m from top global sponsors including Coca-Cola, Visa, and Airbnb

While the actual return for Olympic sponsors is often not clear, the audience that the event offers can’t be disputed.

Case in point: 3.2B people watched some part of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, per The Economist.

With so much opposition to hosting the games…

… there may not be much Olympic halo for the Tokyo advertisers, particularly the domestic brands.

The top sponsors — like Coca-Cola — are in a slightly different boat: They sign multiyear deals across many summer and winter games and can survive one bad Olympics.

However, there is a big problem on the horizon for these global brands: The upcoming Winter Olympics in 2022 will be hosted in Beijing, which some countries may boycott based on China’s treatment of its Uyghur population.

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