CEOs seek to capitalize on London Olympics
The London Olympics are, of course, about allowing the world’s best athletes to compete against each other and fans to enjoy the games. But for major business leaders, it is also a good opportunity to boost bottom lines and enhance brand images.
Korean business heavyweights are flocking to London to cheer on the Korean athletes and at the same time explore the market and engage in high-level networking, which has become an integral part of the Olympics.
Samsung Electronics has been busy since the sporting festival kicked off on Saturday. The technology giant is the main sponsor of the games.
Its chairman, Lee Kun-hee, who also serves as a member of the International Olympic Committee, attended the opening ceremony and watched the 400-meter freestyle final featuring Korean swimmer Park Tae-hawn, who captured silver on Saturday.
Away from the games, the chairman met with heads of the firm’s affiliates in Europe for contingency plans as more and more eurozone countries suffer from poor consumer sentiment. The European market accounts for more than 20 percent of the memory chipmaker’s total sales on average.
Due to the importance of global markets, other Korean companies also plan to increase marketing activities during the Olympics.
Hyundai Motor is not an official sponsor but so as not to miss the chance to promote itself to visitors from all over the world, the automaker, which also owns Kia Motors, has occupied one of the five permanent advertising spaces at the Piccadilly Lights in London since last October. The area is the U.K.’s equivalent of Times Square in New York and one of London’s most iconic images.
“Of course, we believe it is very important for us to promote our company to the world during the Olympics,” an Hyundai official said. “That’s also why we have sponsored Korean athletes.”
Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo and vice chairman Chung Eui-sun are sponsoring the national archery team. The chairman served as head of the Korea Archery Association from 1985until 1997, and after him, the group’s vice chairman has since served in that position. The automaker has provided about 30 billion won in sponsorship to the national archery team since 1985. Thanks partly to such support, Korea won a seventh straight gold in the women's team event in London.
SK Group Chey Tae-won, who also serves as head of the Korea Handball Federation, has also been active in supporting players and engaging in a variety of sponsorship programs.
SK Telecom, the flagship unit of SK Group, has supported swimmer Park since 2007 and also sponsored the Korean Fencing Federation since 2003 so that competitors can attend global events.
“The Olympics are a very important occasion to enhance our brand image and so we have supported talented players so that they can achieve their best results,” an official from SK Group said.
Hanwha Group has been a prominent corporate backer of the competitive shooting scene in Korea. The group has supported Korean shooters starting with 2000 Sydney Olympics silver medalist Kang Cho-hyun. Over the past 10 years, the group has poured 8 billion won into supporting the sport and its participants.
Due to such a long relationship, Chairman Kim Seung-youn Sunday called the coach of Korean shooter Jin Jong-oh to congratulate him on Jin’s Olympic gold medal in the men’s 10-meter air pistol final at the Summer Games.
Many other business leaders, who have also sponsored national athletes, hope their help can result in gold medals.
Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho is vice chairman of the Korea Olympic Committee and chairman of the Korea Table Tennis Association. The group has supported Park and Korean rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae.
Doosan Group, whose chairman Park Yong-sung is the president of the Korean Olympic Committee has also been supporting national athletes.