Ready! Set! Go!
Dow Gets Excited About London 2012
In July 2010, Dow became the official Chemistry Company of the Olympic Movement through 2020. Being an official Worldwide Olympic Partner alongside corporations such as Coca-Cola, GE, Panasonic and Samsung would present Dow with new business opportunities, making the partnership a growth catalyst for the world's second-largest chemical manufacturer.
However, there has been a lot of negative publicity in the UK and India from falsely associating Dow with the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster. But despite the negative coverage, the U.S. company is committed to the 10-year deal.
In the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, Michael Reubold asked Keith Wiggins, Managing Director for Dow in the UK, Ireland and Nordic, about Dow's association with the Olympics and the somewhat rocky road to London 2012.
CHEManager Europe: For how long has Dow been associated with the Olympic Movement?
Keith Wiggins: Dow's relationship with the Olympic Games dates back more than 30 years to the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Games, where Dow made significant donations of Styrofoam insulation used in ice skating rinks and bobsled runs. In 2010, Dow became a Worldwide Olympic Partner joining the TOP - short for The Olympic Partners - program and the "Official Chemistry Company" of the Olympic Movement through 2020.
What has led Dow to become an official Worldwide Olympic Partner?
Keith Wiggins: The Worldwide Olympic Partnership is an investment in the Olympic Movement and allows Dow to explore exciting new business opportunities that highlight the depth and breadth of our specialty products from infrastructure needs to solutions that directly impact athletic performance. Hundreds of Dow products are necessary for Olympic-related infrastructure and equipment, helping ensure the success of the Games and also contribute to the growth of our Company. As the "Official Chemistry Company" of the Olympic Games, Dow will leverage this global stage to showcase its unique solutions that improve the Olympic experience and everyday life.
What is Dow contributing to the Olympic ideal?
Keith Wiggins: Fundamentally, the Olympic Games are about peace, progress, sustainability and the world coming together to celebrate our common humanity. We share that vision and are committed to achieving it.
As the "Official Chemistry Company" of the Olympic Games, Dow provides science-based solutions that improve the Olympic experience for host cities, athletes and fans everywhere. Dow has the innovation, commitment and capabilities to provide solutions that will meet London's and other host cities infrastructure goals and needs for the Games and beyond. In fact, hundreds of solutions from Dow improve the Olympic experience and help make the Games safer, more sustainable and higher-performing. Beyond London, Dow is actively involved in helping improve the Olympic experience in Sochi 2014, Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Pyeong Chang 2018.
The connection between chemistry and sports is obvious, not only when it comes to sporting equipment. How did Dow support the construction of Olympic venues in the past and which contributions has Dow been making for the London 2012 Olympic Games?
Keith Wiggins: Solutions from Dow help make the Games safer, more sustainable and higher-performing. Dow's contribution to London 2012 includes the icon of the Olympics: London's Olympic Stadium is "wrapped" with fabric panels produced by Dow and made with Dow resins. The wrap textile is a scientific innovation based on the latest generation of elastomers. The Dow technology inside the wrap made it possible for the first time to achieve a unique combination of durability, flexibility and fire performance, all while meeting the other performance requirements for the wrap like printability, mechanical properties and abrasion resistance.
The coating contains materials supplied by Dow's Performance Plastics Division. Roofing insulation materials from Dow offer moisture resistance and structural strength. Dow's polyurethane binder will be used in 5,000 meters of the track at the Olympic Stadium. Dow solutions can also be found in the Olympic Village, the Copper Box arena, the Field Hockey Centre, the Eton Manor Sports Complex, the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre and in Olympic Banners.
Could you name a few?
Keith Wiggins: Insulation from Dow is used in the Olympic Village apartments' roofing to protect 17,000 athletes and officials from the elements. In the Field Hockey Centre, resins from Dow help provide a durable, soft and safe field for the 380 athletes competing in more than 75 field hockey matches during the Games. The application is used for digitally printed advertising banners and provides a recyclable solution. Meanwhile, insulation systems from Dow help provide energy efficiency and structural moisture resistance for International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre to protect 20,000 media members and hundreds of thousands of visitors to these media hubs. And for the televised coverage of the Games products from Dow help protect cables and efficiently transmit and distribute broadcast signals to the four billion global viewers expected to tune into the London 2012 Olympic Games.
At the Eton Manor Sports Complex, low-VOC resin flooring from Dow is designed to be tough, durable and slip-resistant for athletes using this aquatics and Paralympic training facility. At the Copper Box arena high-strength insulation materials from Dow help meet high structural and energy efficiency demands for the handball structure's inverted roof. Dow provides a a coating material for the London Organizing Committee's "Look of the Games" banners. The application is used for digitally printed advertising banners and provides a recyclable solution. Insulation materials from Dow are helping to ensure long-term moisture resistance and durability of the Westfield Shopping Centre's roof. Below, Dow insulation materials help to ensure strength, durability and moisture resistance for a safer parking deck.
Dow has funded the fabric wrap around the London Olympic Stadium and it was planned that the wrap would carry the Dow logo. But there were issues about this as well and Dow's logo may not be appearing on the 900m Olympic Stadium wrap. What was the reason for this issue and how has it been resolved?
Keith Wiggins: To clarify any misrepresentation of the facts behind the Stadium Wrap, the stadium wrap panels will not have any Dow-specific branding. Company logo branding is not and never has been permitted on the stadium for any Olympic Games, per Olympic "clean venue" guidelines.
How did Dow's 50,000 global staff react to the involvement with the Olympics?
Keith Wiggins: The Olympic Games is the world's most respected and revered sporting event. Dow employees are excited to help improve the Olympic experience for athletes and fans around the world. We hope that Dow's Olympic partnership will give employees a deep sense of pride about the company.
The Dow team will have a significant presence in London during the Games. Ten Dow Torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame during the Torch Relay across the UK and seven will serve as Paralympic Torchbearers. Dow will provide Olympic-related incentives to employees to inspire and engage employees through the Olympic Movement.
The prestige of being a TOP sponsor of the Olympic Games gives Dow an advantage over its competitors when it comes to recruiting talent. Sponsorship of the Olympic Games makes Dow distinctive.
There had been controversy in the UK and India surrounding the 1984 Bhopal accident in a Union Carbide pesticide plant in India. Dow, however, merged with Union Carbide in 1999, only 15 years after that incident. What was this controversy about and how did Dow respond to it?
Keith Wiggins: It is unfortunate that the misrepresentation of facts about Bhopal by some groups is leading others to make misdirected comments about our sponsorship. Misrepresenting facts is not consistent with the goals and spirit of the Olympic Games. Dow remains committed to our partnership with the London Organizing Committee. This relationship is an important extension of our Worldwide Olympic partnership with the International Olympic Committee IOC.
What is Dow's involvement with the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy?
Keith Wiggins: Dow never owned nor operated the Bhopal plant nor has the company acquired any part of the Bhopal plant or issues related to it. The settlement of the incident between the Government of India, Union Carbide and Union Carbide India occurred in 1989, long before Dow acquired the shares of Union Carbide in 2001. Dow, along with the rest of the industry, has learned from this tragic event, and has helped to drive global industry performance improvements to ensure that such incidents never happen again.
What is Dow doing to turn the so far negatively stamped publicity into a positive reputation-enhancing visibility during the London 2012 Olympic Games?
Keith Wiggins: Dow is committed to the same values and priorities that are part of the Olympic vision and has been associated with the Olympic Movement since the 1980 Lake Placid Games. And for more than one hundred years, Dow has been a leader in developing the science and technology to improve what is essential to human progress.
Dow also has a decades-long commitment to sustainability and solving the world's most pressing global challenges. Among these are its leadership of many collaborative initiatives with NGOs and other partners to address sustainability challenges from public health to energy efficiency and climate change and many others.
Both, Dow and the IOC are committed to sustainability and social responsibility. The IOC welcomed Dow as "an important partner in making our vision for sustainability and global cooperation a reality". Can you name a few projects?
Keith Wiggins: Through our partnership with the IOC, Dow remains committed to helping London and future host cities achieve a positive legacy through the Olympic Games. In its "Sustainable Sourcing Code", LOCOG sets out its desire to make the games ‘a benchmark for sustainability, which other organizations around the world will seek to follow'. Dow is central to achieving this goal, providing a wide range of sustainability solutions. For instance, the Olympic Stadium wrap meets London 2012's strict sustainability standards and no significant emissions occurred in its production. After the games, it will be used in underprivileged African communities to provide shading and improved living conditions.
Wire & Cable solutions will insulate cables and efficiently transmit broadcast signals to billions of viewers around the world. Dow technology both reduces power consumption and protects cabling allowing it to be easily reused and recycled.
Eton Manor includes a resin floor created by Dow that provides a tough, durable and more slip-resistant surface, which improves safety for athletes. The floor will remain at Eton Manor after the Games.
Dow roofing solutions in East London will allow temporary housing for athletes to be used as permanent, low-energy homes after the Games.
As a TOP Sponsor of the Olympic Games through 2020, Dow is also committed to improving the infrastructure and legacy of future host cities. We work with industry associations and the OCOG - the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games - to raise sustainability awareness and standards, and to facilitate the adoption of new technologies.
Projects at Sochi include, among others, "Good Chemistry", a multiyear donation project and employee volunteer effort, which aims to educate, inspire and improve living conditions for nearly 100 children in Russia's Krasnodar region. It includes chemistry lessons, Olympic quizzes, and sporting events for orphaned children.
Krasnodar, where 17,000 kg of polyurethane - PU - systems have been used to insulate more than 22,000 meters of new piping. Dow offered a PU solution, which is energy-efficient, more durable and reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Stadium VIP Seating at a number of Sochi venues will be made from polyurethane (PU) material provided by Dow.
Dow's partnership with the Olympics runs through 2020 including the Olympic Games of Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 and Pyeong Chang 2018 and also the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. Does it add extra motivation to Dow's sponsorship of the Olympic Movement that these host cities are located in emerging markets with a certain importance for your company's future growth strategy?
Keith Wiggins: Dow will leverage the global stage of the Olympic Games to showcase its unique solutions that improve the Olympic experience and everyday life. The worldwide Olympic Partnership is an investment in the Olympic Movement and allows Dow to explore exciting new business opportunities that highlight the depth and breadth of our specialty products from infrastructure needs to solutions that directly impact athletic performance. Hundreds of Dow products are necessary for Olympic-related infrastructure and equipment, helping ensure the success of the Games and the growth of our company
In addition to numerous solutions Dow contributed to the London Games, we are on track to contribute greatly to the Olympic experience in Sochi. We are working with regional partners in Sochi to deliver solutions for the infrastructure development, sporting venues and athlete facilities.
Current solutions in Sochi include:
Krasnodar-TVEL: As Sochi prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, it must replace and renovate many of its outdated venues and historic buildings. Dow Izolan in Russia supplied 17,000 kg of polyurethane (PU) systems to insulate more than 22,000 meters of replaced piping in Cathedral of the Christ Nativity, the First City Hospital and Drama Theater. Dow Izolan has a 60-year history offering advanced PU science and technologies.
Dow offered a PU solution which is energy-efficient, more durable and reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Dow's PU systems can serve for more than 25 years - compared to fewer than 10 years for traditional systems -, limiting corrosion while reducing the need for replacement materials over time.
Sevkabel Wire & Cable: The Krasnodar and surrounding countryside region of Russia is experiencing unprecedented growth due to preparations for the upcoming Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
The Dow Olympic Operations Team and one of Russia's leading cable manufacturers are helping to develop the Krasnodar region in advance of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. With product and technical support from Dow Electrical & Telecommunications, several projects have already been completed including installations for Olympstroy in Sochi and for FSK (Federal Grid) in the mountain resort of Krasnaya Polyana and the ski resort complexes in Rosa-Hutor and Imeretinskaya Valley.
Russian Orphanage Project: Through a multiyear donation project and employee volunteer effort called "Good Chemistry," Dow Russia helped educate, inspire and improve living conditions for nearly 100 children in Russia's Krasnodar region. In partnership with the Orphanage Appeal Organization, Dow Russia and its employees held chemistry lessons, Olympic quizzes, and sporting events for orphaned children. The goals of the program were to stimulate children's development, rehabilitation and their integration in social activities taking place across the Region.
Does Dow use this partnership for further promotional purposes?
Keith Wiggins: Through the power of science and technology and our leadership in sustainability, Dow is committed to improving the legacy of London 2012 and future Olympic host cities. Dow recently launched its new marketing campaign with the theme "Solutionism: The New Optimism." (www.solutionism.com). The campaign illustrates Dow's focus on providing solutions that solve some of the world's most pressing global challenges. We are excited to unveil this new campaign close to the London 2012 Games to promote our partnership.
Do you have any expectations how Dow's partnership with the Olympics will pay off?
Keith Wiggins: Olympic infrastructure contracts offer major business opportunities for Dow. Every dollar invested in the Olympic Games is not only investing in the Olympic spirit, but in our business. Dow's Worldwide Olympic Partnership helps to further the dialogue with its customers around Dow's solutions based product offering. . And we also keep track of important metrics related to our reputation and the satisfaction of our employees.
Want to read more about the Olympic Games? See all of Wiley's London 2012 publications here, including the all-important official commemorative book.
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