Nine of the top 15 brands associated with Rio 2016 are non-Olympic partners, according to the new findings of an on-going study that examines marketing around the Games.
The latest report by Global Language Monitor shows that although three of the top five positions were held by official Olympics sponsors, namely Coca-Cola in first position, Bridgestone in third and McDonald's in fifth, non-affiliated firms dominate the names linked to Rio 2016 so far.
IBM Global Services and Siemens complete the top five when ranked by Brand Affiliation Index, which tracks how often brand names were linked to the Olympics in global print and electronic media and on social networks.
Other firms not officially associated with the Olympics, Pepsi, Nike, Starbucks and Red Bull, occupy seventh, ninth, 11th and 12th place in the ranking, while worldwide Olympic partners Omega, Samsung and Panasonic are further down in 15th, 16th and 17th place.
Interestingly, the link to the Games does not appear to be deliberate on the part of the non-affiliated firms.
Paul JJ Payack, President and chief world analyst of Global Language Monitor, highlighted the challenges faced by official Games partners, which he said pay as much as $1 billion (£650 million/€890 million) over the course of each four-year Olympiad.
"The importance of these early numbers cannot be underestimated, since they have been found to be strong indicators of actual performance during the Games, themselves," he added.
"In fact, the early numbers show an intense battle for position already being waged between the official Olympic sponsors and the non-affiliated marketers, also called ambush marketers or ambushers."
The International Olympic Committee has strict regulations in place to protect its official international partners and to prevent non-sponsors from getting free publicity on the back of the Games.
Among these is Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, which prohibits athletes from advertising for non-official sponsors during the Games.
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