By Adam Coleman

SYDNEY: At a star studded launch at Star City Casino today, official partner of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Philips unveiled its most ambitious sponsorship program ever in support of the world’s most popular sporting event.

For the first time, Philips has exclusive sponsorship rights to the consumer electronics category of the FIFA World Cup.

“The whole of Philips is involved in this. We have been involved in the World Cup for some time, but not at this depth,” said Philips Electronics Australia CEO, Harry van Dyk, at the launch.

The promotional program ranges from the provision of 10,000 Philips FlatTVs for use in media, broadcasting and for the official hospitality villages located in each host city, through to marketing initiatives focusing on Philips customers, an estimated 30 billion of whom are expected to watch during the four weeks of the competition.

“Our aim is not just to sponsor the FIFA World Cup, but to enhance the event for every fan, whether inside the stadium, in a host city or watching a match at home. Philips’ aim is simply to create a more powerful FIFA World Cup experience,” said van Dyk.

The Philips event used a bevy of sporting identities to promote the program including players from AFL, Rugby Union and Australian soccer’s A-League, along with Noddy Alston, an original member of the 1974 Socceroos – the only other Australian team to qualify for the prestigious event.

Within Germany, Philips will assist FIFA and stadium operators by providing vidiwalls (large LED stadium screens), stadium lighting, giant public viewing screens in all 12 host cities, advanced RFID technology incorporated into all 3.2 million FIFA World Cup tickets to ensure security, Philips Heartstart defibrillators inside stadiums and an array of audio visual equipment.

Philips will also create the world’s largest ambilight flat TV in Berlin especially for the event.