On your marks

Written by ProfitGuide

Let the games begin. Although the 2010 Winter Games are more than six years away, businesses are already chasing their Olympic dream. “Scores” of companies have called the Toronto-based Canadian Olympic Committee with pitches and information requests since Vancouver won the Games in July, says Nick Marrone, the COC’s executive director of marketing and communications. Ditto in Vancouver, where a skeleton team is assembling the organizing committee that will dole out business gold: licensing contracts tied to the 2010 Games.

Is there room for you on the podium? The 100 licensees of the Sydney Games sold more than $700 million in Olympic merchandise, from action figures to fine china. Marrone says licensing hopefuls need a high-quality product that honors the Olympic image, plus the ability to deliver: Olympic organizers take a 10% to 15% cut of all licensed merchandise sales, so they want product on store shelves. High-volume contracts are likely to go to larger producers, leaving smaller firms to supply one-of-a-kind items. “Based on what we’ve seen at previous Games,” says Marrone, “there’s a strong desire for unique products.”

It’s not too late to dream some up. Licences won’t be issued before 2005, when rights to the Olympic marque transfer from the COC to Vancouver organizers. There will even be openings for the next Roots: by decree of the International Olympic Committee, all existing sponsorship and licensing arrangements expire on Dec. 31, 2004.

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