The new global sponsor of the Olympics, Chinese online retail giant, Alibaba, saw the Pyeongchang Winter Games as a chance for revolutionizing the experience of the spectators with everything from purchasing souvenirs to tickets. However other sponsors were quick to defend their turf as they saw Alibaba as a credible threat. This is because with some of the services that Alibaba was out to revolutionize such as purchasing Olympic merchandise or tickets at the Games involved an encroachment on the turf of other partners of the International Olympic Committee.
For instance while the Chinese online retailer is the provider of ‘E-Commerce Platform Services’ at the Games having secured an agreement running into millions of dollars two years ago, Visa is the payment technology partner of the Olympics. It also has a role in e-commerce.
Next Winter Games
“In our mind it’s very clear, consumer e-commerce is our category. Business to business is theirs. They’ll find their feet. It’s their first Games. They have the next Winter Olympics (in Beijing),” Iain Jamieson, Visa’s Korea manager, said.
The next Winter Games will be held four years from now and the Chinese online retailer will have to fight it out with other sponsors under the rules determined by the sponsorship regulations of the International Olympic Committee. From the moment the top sponsor program was created three decades ago, the categories have been sliced and diced in a way that ensures that the strict marketing rights granted to different firms do not conflict with one another.
Areas of common interest
An example of this was with regards to Samsung who were the Games’ sponsor for wireless communication equipment sponsor. However they were not allowed to market cameras as these rights have been granted to Panasonic Corp, the camera sponsor of the Olympics.
Alibaba has indicated that it is ready to collaborate with other firms as the Games were an opportunity to deepen the relationships it has with other big corporations. The Chinese online retail giant has indicated that it is involved in discussions with other Games’ sponsors such as Intel, Samsung, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble with a view to finding areas in which they can partner.
Besides e-commerce another area that Alibaba will find tricky navigating is with regards to cloud services. While the Chinese online retail giant is the Games’ cloud services provider, French technology consulting firm Atos is the Olympics’ IT partner. In addition the Olympic website of Atos makes a reference to cloud services.