Pulling back the curtain on history reveals how a Utah company helped Olympic officials reconsider their market partners.
Here’s how the story goes. As the Olympics pulled into Salt Lake in 2002 people started to get the vision of how powerful the event was. Companies, like athletes and viewers, felt the need to be part of energy. Not only is it exciting, but it makes good business sense.
One company in Kaysville, a lip balm maker named Symbiosis Inc. caught the fever. They doubled down on initiative and made a 4-foot-tall lip balm in honor of the games. They also planned to hand out samples to athletes and fans or anyone who looked like the winter weather, or the Olympic scores, had chapped their lips.
There was a problem, the International Olympic Committee had a process that vendors would have to follow to be part of the event. One of the pieces of the process included big money. It turned out Nu Skin International had followed the process including paying $20 Million to fill the spot of lip balm among the athletes.
The IOC made it very clear that they protect the exclusivity of their partner vendors. So, Symbiosis and its 4-foot lip balm were literally out in the cold.
Not to say that Symbiosis was poor, the company was extremely successful, especially among younger buyers, but they only were doing lip balm and Nu Skin had deeper pockets, and essentially was more able to position itself as an Olympic partner.
This popularity of Symbiosis' product helped the story shift. Chris Welton, who was the managing director of Meridian Management SA, which is the marketing arm for the IOC, noted that the expensive nature of sponsorship keeps young companies out of the running.
There are a lot of companies we'd like to have associated with the Olympics, but we know they can't afford the sponsorship. The financial foundation of Olympic sponsorship is now stable enough to pursue products that are popular with young consumers. This is a category of sponsorship we intend to seriously explore if the company can help us achieve goals other than financial.
Utah's market helped shape Olympic sponsorship opportunities in the future.
Bands With No Original Members
Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso