Home Depot is ending the high-profile sponsorship program under which hundreds of US athletes have had the opportunity to chase Olympic gold. The company denied that the slumping economy was behind the decision, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. But a marketing expert said, “In tough times like these, companies are going after things that are not essential, like marketing and goodwill initiatives.”
Since 1992, the program—which gives Olympic and Paralympic part-time jobs with full-time salaries and benefits—has yielded 150 medals, 95 of them gold. Sinking marketing dollars into the Olympics, which attract an international audience, is less cost-effective for Home Depot than its sponsorships of NASCAR and pro and college football. Those sports attract audiences more likely to shop in the US, where the bulk of Home Depot stores are located.