OIympic deal – John Hancock renews sponsorship

Signaling a major reversal of its fortunes in the wake of a bribery scandal, the International Olympic Committee has landed a $52 million sponsorship renewal from John Hancock Financial Services Inc., The Wall Street Journal reports.

The deal, however, fell short of the $60 million that IOC had sought from sponsors, the Journal says, quoting published reports.

“Hancock’s decision also reflects the notion that public support for the Olympics transcends the IOC’s internal politics and  back-stage machinations,” the Journal quotes analysts as saying.

“IT would take something a lot more scandalous for the Games to be significantly tarnished for an advertiser,” Bob Dorfman, executive creative director at Pickett Advertising in San Francisco, told the Journal.

John Hancock President David F.  D’Alessandro was the most vocal critic of the IOC during last year’s scandal, which resulted in the expulsion of several members and the adoption of reforms in December, the Journal says.

In fact, D’Alessandro hinted that his company wouldn’t renew its sponsorship – one of the IOC’s largest and most visible marketing relationships.

Officials of Boston-based Hancock declined to comment, but the IOC released a statement saying that the Hancock chief had sought reforms to make the IOC “more democratic, transparent and responsible.”

The statement also quoted him as saying the recent reforms showed the group “has taken that responsibility seriously.”

Hancock signed a four-year deal that starts with the Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 and runs through the Summer Games in Athens, Greece in 2004. The company’s previous contract includes the Summer Games this year in Sydney, Australia.

Other sponsors that have recently renewed their sponsorships are Coca-Cola Co. and Visa International.

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