And now we've recovered from the World Cup, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is the next playground for big corporations wielding their marketing megabucks.
Who will be on the top tier of the creativity and effectiveness podium this time?
Well, one candidate could be our old friend Cadbury. As you’ll be aware, the chocolate manufacturer is no stranger to sponsorship, having spent £10m on a deal to own the bumpers for ITV’s 'Coronation Street' between 1997 and 2007.
Now the company’s turned its attention to the London Olympics and, arguably, with a campaign that has greater synergy with the sponsoree.
Cadbury is already well out of the blocks. I first spotted the 'Spots v Stripes' campaign on digital posters in the Underground.
At first sight, it’s just a bit of a laff to flog a bar of cocoa and sugar. You’re invited to take sides, and it doesn’t really matter which, for some harmless competitive fun at events across Britain and Ireland – www.spotvstripes.com.Beyond all this larking about, the 'Spots v Stripes' website reveals a deeper and more interesting agenda, so I make no apologies for quoting it at length:
"For more than 130 years, we’ve been encouraging our workers to make time for play in their daily lives. It was the Cadbury brothers’ vision to create ‘a factory in a garden’, and to this very day, our staff and their families still play in the swimming pool, bowling greens and playing fields that the brothers built in Bournville Village."
Intriguing. But who has more permission than one of the original Quaker companies to "own" innocent play? And Cadbury goes on to cite Dr Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, who’s apparently said that play is as important for adults as it is for children:
"Our ability to play throughout life is the single most important factor in determining our success and happiness. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition."
I’m sure any creatives in the room will concur.
Speaking of which, what are the ads like? My fave is two opposing thumbs dressed in little spotted and striped outfits like wrestlers dolled up in your granny’s knitting.
Bonkers works best. This is a far cry from the intensity of Nike or the pomposity of Aviva in other sports sponsorship campaigns. And a damn good thing, too.
Playfulness is a much-underrated quality – I might almost call it a virtue – not just in marketing and creativity, but also in life and love. And if Cadbury has got me all over philosophical, then the campaign must be doing something right, eh?
Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com