China's Mengniu Dairy Company and Coca-Cola have signed on to a 12-year deal as joint partners in the TOP (The Olympic Partner) programme.
A controversy that popped up last week hinted at the move (see "Public squabble erupts between Yili and Mengniu over Olympic sponsorships").
The partnership, according to the International Olympic Committe (IOC), combines the non-alcoholic beverage and dairy categories into a new joint category, and brings Chinese dairy company Mengniu into the family of TOP partners. The agreement will run through the Olympic Games in 2032. The partners did not comment on financial aspects but published reports have said the deal is worth as much $3 billion.
Seemingly trying to address concerns raised last week by Mengniu rival Yili, the IOC stated that Olympic marketing programmes are based on "the fundamental principle of exclusivity within a specific product category and territory" and asserted that "the current Beijing 2022 domestic partner’s exclusive rights in its designated category in the Chinese market will not be affected".
This new agreement extends Coca-Cola's association with the Olympics to 104 years and makes Mengniu the first Chinese FMCG company to become a TOP partner.
Jeffrey Minfang Lu, CEO and executive director of Mengniu, said in a release that membership in the TOP programme will act as a "catalyst" for Mengniu to grow around the world. "This is a vital step in our international strategy, and we are honoured to have the opportunity to build the positive reputation of Chinese food and beverage brands among consumers globally," he said.
Worldwide Olympic Partners support every National Olympic Committee and their teams, and every Organiser of the Olympic Games, as well as providing support for athletes’ training and development.
The joint agreement also includes marketing rights for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Paralympic Games through the IOC-IPC long-term collaboration agreement, as well as for the Youth Olympic Games.