Editor's Comment: Olympic sponsorship is a long-term game

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For the marketers staking their reputations on London 2012 Olympics sponsorships, there's little room for philanthropy.

Just ask Mariano Dima, Visa Europe's marketing chief, as he reveals the aim behind its Olympics sponsorship: to change perceptions of Visa from traditional transactions facilitator to contactless payments innovator (see page 28 of this week's Marketing).

Visa is to be commended for having such a far-reaching commercial sponsorship goal. Its London 2012 venture has ticked every box in the sponsorship rulebook so far.

One such rule is that for every £1 of sponsorship, a brand must spend £2 or £3 in activation; witness Visa's launch this weekend of yet another major Olympics TV ad campaign, featuring Usain Bolt, as an example.

Above all, Visa's five-year strategy heeds the lessons of the Beijing Olympics, after which a Nielsen report concluded the winning brands were those that viewed sponsorship as a long-term exercise, not a short-term tactical one.

As Visa repositions as a technology brand, let's hope its tactics do not involve the unpalatable practice of slowing the competition down with patent lawsuits (see 'Battle of the Patents,' page 12).

The patents under dispute have little relevance to how consumers choose technology - that's the role of marketing, after all. Let's hope that tech brands' appetite for litigation is not at marketing's expense.

Noelle.McElhatton@haymarket.com.

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