Blog: Dean BestCoke hopes Sainsbury's bid goes flat

Dean Best | 15 October 2009

Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola is not the proverbial 'happy bunny'.

According to reports that emerged this week, the global brand powerhouse was decidedly unimpressed that the London Olympics committee is said to be in talks with UK supermarkets, including Sainsbury's, over sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics.

Coca-Cola is supposedly concerned that, if such a deal were to go through, said retailers would be able to use the Olympic logo in promotional activity – including that linked to own label colas, juices and waters.

In a complaint submitted to the International Olympic Committee, Coca-Cola has argued that any agreement to this effect would damage its own promotional activity in the run up to the Olympics.

Coca Cola's worries highlight the almost schizophrenic relationship between retailers and suppliers, who interact as both business partners and competitors. And the duel nature of their relationship means that this battle is one that will take place behind closed doors.

When contacted by just-food, Sainsbury's remained totally silent on Coca-Cola's move, while for its part the cola giant simply insisted that it remained committed to ensuring the success of the 2012 Olympics.

"As a Worldwide sponsor of the Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company has through the IOC supported the success of the Olympic Games for more than 80 years. We are working closely with LOCOG and the IOC to ensure London 2012 is a success, in line with our long-term sponsorship agreement,” a spokesperson guardedly revealed.

With its long relationship with the Olympics – having been a sponsor of the Games since 1928 – and its estimated GBP20m (US$32.5) a year payout for promotional rights, it seems likely that Coca-Cola will win out over its retail rivals. If a sponsorship deal with a retailer is reached, it will most likely include restrictions to prevent any infringements on Coca-Cola's turf.

Katy Humphries, deputy editor


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