Imagination at Work and Play: A Case-Study Analysis of General Electric's Olympic Sponsorship

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This paper seeks to examine the management of General Electric's (GE) Olympic sponsorship and provides insights related to the organizational and transformational leadership dynamics involved in the development, implementation and activation of the sponsorship, as well as the results of pull-through marketing efforts and the sponsorship's impact on GE's global business practices, brand equity, and revenue. Design/methodology/approach - The case-study method was used due to the complexity and specificity of the topic, and the fact that only a discrete element of the sport sponsorship sector and a limited number of events and their relationships were addressed. Findings - The primary objective of GE's The Olympic Partner (TOP) sponsorship was to enter the Chinese market and build brand equity across Asia. Using GE's proprietary WorkOut(TM) and Change Acceleration models, transformational leaders facilitated the development and implementation of a new integrated organizational structure that enabled GE to maximize branding opportunities in Asia, product/service pull-through marketing opportunities, and return on objectives. Originality/value - This paper demonstrates how GE has effectively modified the structure of its global sales unit, generated revenue, and increased brand recognition in emerging markets across Asia. GE's management of its TOP sponsorship represents an innovative model for Chief Financial Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, brand managers, and sport marketers considering a long-term sponsorship investment.