The easiest thing to win at Rio Games? A ticket

Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:42am EDT
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By Joshua Schneyer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Over the past few weeks, one U.S. marketing executive's phone has been ringing hot with offers that many sports fans could only dream of: an all-expenses-paid trip to watch the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.

So far, 10 Olympic sponsor firms have invited him to the Games, a sign of what he and other executives say is an event struggling to draw well-heeled corporate clients worried about Zika virus, Brazil's economic crisis and security risks.

The marketing executive, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid harming business relationships, said he had turned down Rio due to prior commitments.

But even when invited guests are available to attend, there appear to be fewer takers than normal for Rio, according to interviews and a Reuters analysis of ticketing and travel data.

"I can understand the scare about the Zika virus," said Rob Prazmark, president of 21 Sports & Entertainment Marketing and a leading broker of Olympic corporate partnerships.

"And when you have a souring market, which Brazil has become, the concept of entertaining at a high-profile event can also go sour."

For the host city, corporate entertainment is an important part of its plan to recoup part of its $12 billion (9.15 billion pound) in Games investment. For Olympic sponsors and other big firms, the Games are a major marketing event, a chance to reward customers, suppliers, staff or VIP guests with the trip of a lifetime.

A typical five-day program for two corporate guests is valued at around $30,000, according to another marketing executive who has worked closely with sponsors on the programs. Some companies invite more than 1,000 guests each.   Continued...

A salesman hands tickets to a sports fan after he bought them at the 2016 Rio Olympics ticket office in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo