Citigroup signs sponsorship deal with USOC

Citigroup signed a sponsorship deal Thursday with the U.S.

Olympic Committee, a move the banking group’s CEO believes is an

effective way to say thanks for customers’ support during the

financial crisis.

Monetary details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the

banking category has long been one of the most lucrative in the

USOC cache, traditionally worth $10 to $15 million for four years.

This deal, which includes ad buys on NBC’s telecasts at the London

Games, goes through 2012.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Citigroup CEO Vikram

Pandit said the company is excited to get in line with the Olympics

but also said the sponsorship is ”about just saying thanks to the

American people who have supported us through everything that has

happened the last few years.”

Citi received about $45 billion in government bailout money to

help it survive during the credit crisis that hit in 2007 and 2008.

The company has paid back the money and has reported profits for

the last four quarters.

”We have turned the corner, no question about it,” Pandit

said. ”Having an opportunity to sponsor a key event that’s

important to the U.S., we think it’s an important part of what we

need to be doing, what we should be doing and it’s what we are


The financial crisis also hit the USOC, which lost a handful of

multimillion-dollar sponsors, including longtime partner Bank of


The USOC has been steadily rebuilding its sponsorship


The Citi arrangement is the second that brought NBC to the

table, folding in advertising on the Olympic network’s broadcasts

with the basic USOC sponsorship deal. In the past, companies would

negotiate with the USOC, then decide whether they wanted ad time

for the Olympics and head to NBC to work a separate deal. USOC CEO

Scott Blackmun thought streamlining that process would make the

deals more attractive.