By  on February 10, 2010

The power of personality is alive and well for Winter Olympics marketers.

Brands are putting their prestige and cash behind top gold medal contenders, such as snowboarder Shaun White and skier Lindsey Vonn, even as some major television sponsors, including General Motors and Johnson & Johnson, opt out of the Games, which get under way Friday in Vancouver. NBC, which has the TV rights, has projected a $200 million loss — a combination of soft advertising and the $820 million rights fee it paid.

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