Brands are still in the Olympic legacy race

Slogging my way around the Olympic Park last weekend, struggling to overtake a man dressed as a dinosaur, the magnificent achievements of real athletes last summer suddenly felt a long time ago.

Alec Mattinson: 'Brands must back legacy projects meaningfully or any boost from their Games work will be vanishingly temporary.'
Alec Mattinson: 'Brands must back legacy projects meaningfully or any boost from their Games work will be vanishingly temporary.'

The National Lottery Anniversary Run marked the re-opening of the Olympic Stadium a year after the Games. Twelve months on from those heady few weeks, the inevitable question is being examined - was it all worth it?

Last week we were told the Olympics have paid for themselves, while a PRWeek/OnePoll survey has also found the sponsors of London 2012 are still widely recognised and huge majorities agree the UK, London and British sport have enjoyed a sustained reputation boost.

Well, that settles it. An unqualified success. Let's host one every year.

Clearly, though, the defining measure of the Games' success is the long-term impact on communities and sporting participation.

The legacy battle is still far from won. Our poll found just 32 per cent thought the Games encouraged people to get into sport and 15 per cent trusted the Government to ensure a lasting legacy.

These figures will worry political and public sector bodies, but they should also concern those brands who wedded themselves to London 2012. Brands must back legacy projects meaningfully or any boost from their Games work will be vanishingly temporary.

These projects currently seem to be one of the untold aspects of the legacy debate. For example, Coca-Cola has teamed up with charity Street Games to back Legacy 365; British Gas is partnering with British Swimming to get 500,000 swimming by 2015 and EDF runs a Legacy Champions programme.

The challenge is generating coverage and conversation around these projects as London 2012 fades into memory.

The model for success must be Sky's support of British cycling. The Sky brand has become ingrained with elite sporting success - and it doesn't get much more elite than the Tour de France - and mass participation, as numbers of British cyclists taking to the roads grows exponentially nationwide.

This marriage of brand exposure and measurable social good shows that the relationship sponsors have with sport is not necessarily one of cynical financial interest.

Danny Boyle recently warned it would be 'naive' to expect the Olympic feel-good factor to last.

That feel-good factor was still palpable at the Olympic Stadium last weekend and will remain there in other commemorative events.

The Olympic legacy is still there to be claimed - the reputation of many will depend upon it.

alec.mattinson@haymarket.com

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