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Nu Skin takes pragmatic approach

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Sure, there was an Olympic-style flame. Fireworks, even. And an inspirational film showcasing athletic feats from recent Games.

But Nu Skin Enterprises officials made it clear their decision to sponsor the 2002 Winter Games was about boosting business when they announced the deal Friday to the 10,000 distributors from around the world gathered in the Delta Center for the company's 10th international convention."We have aligned ourselves with the Olympics because this alignment helps you do your jobs better," Nu Skin President Steve Lund told the enthusiastic crowd, promising them that having the Olympic symbols on their business cards would open doors to new sales and recruitment.

Plus, Lund said, the Olympic affiliation "will also further mainstream our brands in the business community." Nu Skin is one of the largest direct sales operations in the world, with more than 500,000 active independent distributors worldwide.

Provo-based Nu Skin and its subsidiary, Pharmanex Inc., are contributing an estimated $20 million in cash, goods and services to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the U.S. Olympic teams through the 2004 Summer Games.

For that amount, the company bought the right to advertise itself as the official "direct selling" sponsor for the 2002 Winter Games and the U.S. Olympic teams for the next three Games, as well as sell LifePak multivitamins as an official licensed product of the USOC.

While the details of the sponsorship deal were not made public, SLOC President Mitt Romney said that in addition to cash, the organizing committee will be able to tap into Nu Skin's corporate resources, including warehouse space, transportation and advertising production.

"It is a very generous contribution," Romney told reporters. "It is an enormous step forward for us. . . . I could not be more pleased to have another Utah company step forward and set an example for the rest of the nation and the world."

Nu Skin is only the second sponsor signed by the joint marketing arm of the organizing committee and the USOC since the scandal surrounding Salt Lake City's Olympic bid surfaced late last year. The first, Marker Ltd., is also a Utah company.

Romney said the Nu Skin deal plus a less-valuable supplier agreement with a catering service company, Compass Group, announced earlier this month, reduces the amount needed from corporate sponsors and suppliers from $179 million to $160 million.

"That will continue to close," he said, possibly as soon as December. But organizers plan to have until after at least the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney to sell the bulk of the sponsorships because sponsor deals are expected to drop off after the Games in Australia.

Romney was on stage during the announcement to the sales force, many of whom had traveled from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Canada and other foreign countries. He told the crowd that both Nu Skin and the Olympics are "about taking control of your life and managing your own destiny."

Some 25 local Olympic hopefuls paraded through the Delta Center, and were followed by Olympian Al Joyner, a spokesman for Nu Skin's nutritional supplements. Joyner carried a torch that was used to light a cauldron onstage before fireworks went off and the film about past Games was shown.

"We believe in the Olympics," Lund told reporters after the announcement. "We're also doing this for business reasons. We're an international company doing business in 29 countries around the world." Only the Olympics, he said, is recognized in all of those places.