GM ends $1B USOC deal

GM to end Olympic sponsorship after 2008
Automaker says other ad methods more efficient than $1 billion investment

Updated: 7:12 p.m. ET Aug. 6, 2007
DETROIT - General Motors Corp. said Monday it has decided not to renew its $1 billion sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Committee when its contract ends after 2008.

The company said the move is a result of changes in its marketing strategy and came after GM evaluated the return on its advertising investment.

“We have other avenues to be able to reach this same audience without bearing the expense of being an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team,” spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said.

GM is continuing to look at spending its advertising dollars in the most efficient way, including the move to digital formats from traditional print, television and radio advertising, Carney said.

“Our current agreement with General Motors means that GM will be an official U.S. Olympic team sponsor through 2008,” USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. “As to where things stand with a possible renewal, we do not comment on the status of ongoing discussions with our corporate partners.”

Carney said she did not know what GM’s strategy would be for advertising related to the Olympics beyond the Beijing games in 2008. Chevrolet continues to sponsor the U.S. Snowboarding Team, and GM of Canada is sponsoring the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, she said.

The decision was not made because of GM’s financial condition, Carney said. The company lost $2 billion last year but has turned in its third straight profitable quarter. It is undergoing a restructuring plan that includes reducing its hourly work force by more than 34,000 with early retirement and buyout offers, and it is in the midst of critical contract talks with the United Auto Workers.

GM’s move was reported Monday by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal.

GM signed a 10-year, $1 billion sponsorship agreement in 1997 to buy rights as the official vehicle-maker for the U.S. team. The deal was extended through 2008 in November 2004. The company has been involved with the U.S. Olympic Committee as a sponsor since 1984.