By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
April 4, 2012: In what is being called a marketing first for the Olympics, the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games has launched an eBay-style online auction that enables companies to bid for advertising space in cities where events will be staged in 2012.
The LOCOG estimates the value in ad space could exceed $355 million (£250 million). The media space will be available in each city where Olympic events are being held, including London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and Coventry. The marketing auction runs now through July 1.
However, a number of failsafe procedures have been put in place to keep official Olympic partners from being outmaneuvered by non-partners and companies looking to engage in guerrilla marketing tactics.
For the first two weeks, advertising space will be available only to the 11 International Olympic Committee worldwide partners and the seven LOCOG top tier partners. Official tier two and three sponsors will be able to bid beginning the third week. Unsold space will then be made available to non-sponsors.
According to the LOCOG, a total of 4,000 packages of advertising, including billboards and posters, will be available. The first spaces are being tagged as "prime vicinity" sites that would be located directly adjacent to Olympic venues. Next would be "spectaculars," described as unique, high-profile spaces including Heathrow Airport, the London Underground and the Imax Theater on the Southbank.
IOC worldwide partners that are eligible for the first two weeks of bidding include Coca-Cola, McDonald's, GE, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Visa and Omega. Top tier LOCOG partners include adidas, BMW, British Airways and BP.
The auction platform was developed and is being hosted by technology firm Media Equals, London. According to the company, "Access is restricted to London 2012 Partners, their nominated agents and poster buyers. To login you must be a registered user of one of these organizations." (Full details here.)
According to the IOC, ad packages will be released over the course of the auction to prevent bidders from abusing the system. However, there is no limit regarding how much ad space one company can bid on and buy.
"We are making it a drip process over a number of weeks to keep it easy for buyers," Chris Townsend, commercial director for the LOCOG, told The Guardian. “What we have here is [a] fair, open and transparent process."