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.

June 22, 2021

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

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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