(Winter Olympics sponsorships article updated to include the announcement of BP as a major sponsor of the United State Olympic Committee.)
NEW YORK (
) -- U.S. athletes aren't the only ones desperate to grab the gold at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. The corporate sponsors throwing their money behind the athletes are, of course, also hoping to come out winners.
Still, Olympic sponsorships were harder to come by this year, as many traditional partners, struggling amid the recession, were forced to abandon their Olympic marketing efforts. Such big-named sponsors as
Johnson & Johnson
Bank of America
chose to skip the games this year.
Most notably, the U.S. Olympic speed skating team found itself struggling to pay for practice ice time when sponsor
broke its four-year contract, worth $350,000 a year to the team. Luckily for them, comedian Stephen Colbert raised $300,000 in donations to send the team to the Olympic Games.
Still, there are numerous companies continuing to pitch in for the Olympic cause -- and garner a bit of goodwill while doing so. Case in point: on Monday, during the height of the Olympics' first-weekend buzz, the United States Olympic Committee announced that it had signed petroleum company
to a multimillion dollar sponsorship of the team. The contract is scheduled to run through 2012.
Read on to see the many other publicly traded companies you'll be seeing in Vancouver in the coming weeks....
is the official non-alcoholic beverage sponsor of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
In addition, the company is backing women's ice hockey champ Angela Ruggiero and figure skater Evan Lysacek -- although well-known snowboarder Shaun White, it should be noted, signed on with rival
Coca-Cola is the longest continuous corporate sponsor of the games, first signing on with the games in 1928. In 2005, the company signed a deal to renew its partnership with the Olympics through 2020.
became an official sponsor of the Olympic Games in 1976, but its ties to the Olympics began long before that.
At the 1968 Winter Games, the fast-food chain airlifted hamburgers to U.S. athletes competing in Grenoble, France, who had famously declared that they were homesick for McDonald's food.
In 2004, McDonald's signed a deal making it an official sponsor until 2012.
is the exclusive credit card of the Olympic games, as well as the "official payment system."
Visa's Olympic partnership began in 1986 and since then has sponsored 12 Winter and Summer Games.
Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble
unveiled on Thursday its biggest Olympic sponsorship yet. The maker of Pampers diapers and Pringles chips launched its "Thanks, Mom" campaign, with commercials featuring U.S. athletes' mothers.
Procter & Gamble said it is also offering athletes' moms financial aid for travel expenses to Vancouver.
This campaign arrives on top of Procter & Gamble's previous financial support to the U.S. team and advertising deals with skier Lindsey Vonn and speedskater Apolo Ohno.
Experts say Procter & Gamble might be pulling out all the stops when it comes to advertising during the Olympic games in an attempt to compensate for the fact that its sales have stalled amid the recession.
Seen above, skeleton Olympic hopeful Noelle Pikus-Pace and daughter Lacee will be sharing their Vancouver experiences throughout the Olympic Winter Games via photos and videos on Pampers.com.
provides energy-power generation, distribution systems and appliances, it is will be most notable during the coming weeks for its coverage of the Olympic Games on NBC Universal.
Still, General Electric is poised to lose about $250 million on its coverage. The company is currently in the process of selling NBC Universal to Comcast, but the deal isn't expected to close for a year.
Back in 2003 General Electric spent about $2.2 billion for the rights to the 2010 Winter Games and the 2012 Summer Games. (Of that total, the Vancouver Olympics were valued at some $820 million.)
Athletic apparel maker
is outfitting -- or, should we say, underfitting -- a host of Winter Olympics athletes, including hockey player Rick Nash and skier Lindsey Vonn.
Under Armour is also outfitting athletes in freestyle bobsled, skeleton bob, curling and snowboarding.
It's hardly a surprise that
would be one of the lead sponsors of the Olympic Games. As part of Nike's sponsorship, it has designed the hockey jersey for Team Canada and will provide replicas for purchase at the games.
Nike has also created a USA Medal Stand collection, which includes a waterproof down jacket, pants and accessories, that all U.S. Olympic athletes will wear on the podium.
One of Nike's biggest Olympic endorsers is South Korea figure skater Kim Yuna.
Polo Ralph Lauren
Polo Ralph Lauren
is the "official outfitter" of the U.S. Olympic team for both the opening and closing ceremonies.
The official opening and closing ceremony collection, which includes a puff jacket, hat and sweaters, will be available at Polo stores, select department stores and online.
is supporting a veritable army of 2010 U.S. Olympic Winter Games hopefuls: Apolo Anton Ohno (speed skating), Shaun White (snowboarding), Gretchen Bleiler (snowboarding), Evan Lysacek (figure skating), Rachael Flatt (figure skating), Caroline Zhang (figure skating), Michelle Kwan (Olympian figure skater) and numerous Paralympians, including Brad Emmerson (sled hockey), Augusto Perez (curling), Elitsa Storey (skiing), Andy Yohe (sled hockey) and Dave Denniston (swimming).
As part of AT&T's contract, it will provide these athletes with wireless products and services.
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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