BMW, GM, Jeep compete in the Olympics of marketing events
Some of the world's top automakers are competing in the Olympics -- at varying levels.
As the official automotive partner of the 2012 Summer Olympics, BMW Group has a dominant role. Its top-tier sponsorship provides the International Olympic Committee with a fleet of about 3,200 vehicles to transport athletes and VIPs during the games.
General Motors and Jeep also will have some visibility during the games with various advertising and marketing strategies.
BMW also is the official mobility partner of the United States Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams through 2016.
BMW's Performance Team is a group of 11 U.S. athletes the company has chosen to sponsor in 2012. Seven of those athletes qualified to compete in the London games, including four 2008 gold medalists: Olympic swimmers Ricky Berens and Natalie Coughlin, Olympic track and field athlete Sanya Richards-Ross and Paralympic track and field athlete April Holmes.
A BMW spokeswoman said in a statement that the company looked to sponsor not only esteemed athletes, but athletes in sports in which the company's engineers could offer advice.
"We worked closely with our partners in the Olympic movement to identify athletes that reflect the core values of BMW and then looked to include athletes from a variety of sports and disciplines," the spokeswoman said. "To further our aim of providing more than simply financial support to Team USA, we also looked to athletes of those sports in which a parallel to vehicle engineering might be present."
Jeep jumps through hoops
Jeep also has a role in the London games. As the only Chrysler Group brand sponsoring a team, Jeep supports USA Basketball, which organizes the men's and women's Olympic basketball teams. As a part of the deal, the Jeep Wrangler has been deemed the official vehicle of USA Basketball.
Jeep CEO Mike Manley said in an April statement: "Each member of the USA Basketball team embodies inner strength, passion, a drive to win and a true sense of dedication they use to not only represent their team, but also their country. The Jeep brand is proud to be on the same team as these talented men and women."
The Jeep-USA Basketball partnership has been featured in a major marketing campaign by the company.
Fiat S.p.A., Chrysler Group's parent company, is sponsoring the Italian National Olympic Committee through 2014.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. is not engaged in any direct Olympics marketing, but in has been sponsoring Hunter Kemper, a triathlon competitor, since 2007. .
The company said in a statement: "Toyota is committed to supporting endurance and action sports, which remain passion points for some of our consumers, and sponsoring top athletes like Hunter Kemper is part of this strategy."
Not everyone's on the bandwagon
Some past automotive Olympic sponsors are playing little or no role this year -- and some cited BMW's dominant sponsorship.
Audi of America is not sponsoring any summer teams, though the company has sponsored the U.S. Ski Team at past Winter Olympics. Audi AG, however, is sponsoring the German Olympic and Paralympic teams through 2016.
General Motors sponsored Team USA in the 2008 Summer Olympics, but is not sponsoring any teams or athletes for the London games. It is, however, the only domestic automaker allowed to advertise on NBC during the TV network's Olympic broadcast. BMW is the only import automaker allowed to advertise on NBC's broadcast.
As a result of BMW's exclusive role in the games, Honda said it won't have any involvement.
"Honda Motor Europe doesn't have any Olympic plans due to the very severe rules around BMW being official vehicle sponsor," an American Honda spokeswoman said.
A Ford Motor Co. spokesman also cited BMW's status as a reason the company will have no involvement in the London games.
Although Volkswagen was the official automotive partner for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the company did not return multiple requests for information on its involvement in this year's games. Olympic teams from New Zealand and Liechtenstein list the automaker as a sponsor of their organizations.
You can reach Adam Rubenfire at firstname.lastname@example.org.