Bridgestone's Oakley: Brazil ready to outshine negative headlines at Summer Games

The Summer Olympic Games will have a transformative effect on Brazil and bring a new level of understanding and appreciation of this amazing country to the rest of the world, says Bridgestone's communications leader for the Americas.

With less than two months until the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the city of Rio de Janeiro and the world’s greatest athletes are chasing their dreams into the final stages of their Olympic preparations, and so is Bridgestone.

For our company and brands, the upcoming Games are a series of firsts. They are Bridgestone’s first since signing on as a Worldwide Olympic Partner in June 2014, and mark the first truly global marketing platform in our company’s history. They are also the first Olympic Games in South America and the first in Brazil, a country where Bridgestone has more than 90 years of history.

There is no greater stage than the Olympic Games, and as a communicator, this is both an exciting and challenging time to practice our craft. Much like the incredible athletes we aspire to emulate, partners of the Games must prepare for any and all conditions and be confident that our tireless planning will pay off. At Bridgestone, we are working hard to maintain the delicate balance of maximizing all the wonderful opportunities our Olympic partnership offers us and navigating the many varied hurdles facing Brazil, the Games, and all those involved.

Bridgestone has a long history of large-scale sporting event and sports marketing experience to draw upon and every event, including the Olympics, brings its own unique set of challenges. In that respect, Rio 2016 is no different, but the storylines coming out of the host country – from political and economic crises to infrastructure and public health concerns – make Rio a "perfect storm." Like all partners, we have been preparing for many months by closely monitoring events in Brazil, working with organizers and stakeholders behind the scenes, and setting up processes and protocols for internal and external communications. We are also keeping our employees and hospitality guests informed. Creating a seamless and nimble team across management, marketing, and security that can adjust and react in real-time is paramount.

At the same time, we are proud – and ready – to celebrate the Olympic spirit, the world’s greatest athletes, and the rich culture and people of the beautiful host country of Brazil. Bridgestone’s integrated activation strategy for Rio 2016 includes soon-to-launch advertising, retail marketing, and digital campaigns, as well as robust athlete and hospitality programs. Through our association with the Games, Bridgestone will show the world who we are and what we do, ignite pride amongst our 145,000-plus employees around the world, and engage more deeply with those who rely on our products.

We are also looking at these Games as an opportunity to showcase our company’s commitment to community service, social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and sustainability – all tenets of the Olympic Charter and the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 that mirror Bridgestone’s core values. Sports has the power to transform lives, and I believe these Games will have a transformative effect on Brazil and bring a new level of understanding and appreciation of this amazing country to the rest of the world. Thanks to the leadership of IOC President Thomas Bach, I believe we’re also seeing a transformation within the Olympic movement in terms of its focus, practices, and policies

Ultimately, as a new Olympic partner, the Rio Games are a time for Bridgestone to test, learn, and be inspired. With Olympic marketing rights in the U.S., Brazil, Japan, and Korea this year (our rights go fully global in 2017), our program is designed to build a strong foundation that will enable us to fully maximize our sponsorship and help drive business outcomes, over the next eight years of our partnership. We are the world’s number one tire company, but we are much more, and we are anxious to share that with the world.

I am honored to have a personal connection to these Games, having lived in the host country with my family for nearly four years, including during the time when Rio was named as host city. I have no doubt my Brazilian colleagues and the country’s dynamic spirit will dazzle the world once the Olympic Flame is lit during the Opening Ceremony at the iconic Maracaña Stadium on August 5. While an array of important topics continue to capture the headlines, the hope and belief is that the focus soon will turn to the inspiring athletes, the pageantry of the Games, and the sense of peace and unity that the world stops to celebrate every Olympiad.

As Olympíadas estão chegando. Vamos lá!

Paul Oakley is VP of communications for Bridgestone Americas.

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