General Electric Co sold about $100 million of lights, power supplies and medical devices for the London Olympic Games, less than for Beijing's massive build-out but still enough to justify the largest US conglomerate's sponsorship, officials said on Monday.
Since signing on as a top-level Olympic sponsor in 2005, GE has generated about $1 billion in revenue from selling equipment for the stadiums and athlete villages in Torino, Beijing and Vancouver - with about half that amount coming from China's 2008 games.
“At the time when Beijing went for the Olympics, they invested a lot. There was just a lot more to be built and developed,” said Beth Comstock, GE's chief marketing officer. “London has a much more measured approach in terms of infrastructure, but we certainly are happy that we participated.”
The backers of the London games spent about $14 billion in building new Olympic venues and overhauling existing sites, well less than the estimated $40 billion that China spent.
The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company declined to say how much it paid for its Olympic sponsorship - Olympic contracts prohibit sponsors from disclosing the amount - but said the revenue generated from Olympic projects has justified its sponsorship.
“It has been a good return for us,” said Comstock. “It has been easily justifiable, a no-brainer in terms of the return.”
GE's sponsorship contract runs through 2020. While the world's largest maker of electric turbines and jet engines no longer owns a majority stake in US Olympic broadcaster NBC Universal - now majority owned by Comcast Corp - it is still finding that the sponsorship has paid off, Comstock said.
That is largely because the Olympics gives it a chance to show off its ability to sell into large-scale projects. GE has made a practice of pitching its wares directly to governments in emerging markets, from Saudi Arabia to China, for large-scale infrastructure projects like power plants and water purification systems, Comstock said.
The 11 top-level Olympic sponsors also include McDonald's Corp, Dow Chemical Co and Visa Inc. - Reuters