American Skandia may get some free press during the 2002 Olympics because of its sponsorship of the U.S. women’s bobsled team. The firm was the team’s first corporate sponsor beginning in 1995.

During international competitions in the past few years the team’s sleds and uniforms had the American Skandia logo on them. During the Olympics, however, there are strict rules about corporate sponsorships and that is not allowed, said Marianne Stochmal, a spokeswoman for American Skandia. Still, the firm may get exposure during the games if athletes mention the firm or wear Skandia paraphernalia during post-Olympic interviews, Stochmal said.

That might happen because of the role Skandia took in getting the team off the ground. In 1995, one of the firm’s investment professionals approached the company to ask that it support the team, which was just getting together. Skandia decided to do so and provided funds for equipment and lodging while the team trained and competed, Stochmal said. The firm also initiated a letter writing campaign to the International Olympic Committee, the US Olympic Committee, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the international bobsled federation to lobby for the inclusion of the sport in the 2002 Olympics.

"It took a while, but it finally happened in 1999," Stochmal said.

The Olympics have already provided some exposure for the company. There has been some press about Skandia involvement with the team. Also, stories of the team going to the Olympics have included photos of the athletes in Skandia uniforms and on Skandia sleds, including one in USA Today and one on the cover of US News and World Report, Stochmal said.

"That free press was really great for us," she said.

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