The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has encountered media criticism over its ticketing strategy, but insiders are happy that the 2012 comms campaign achieved its primary aim of shifting tickets.
One well-placed source said: 'I think we ran a really strong PR and marketing campaign to sell the tickets. We've never sold a competitive handball ticket in this country ever, and we've sold out already.'
Speaking to PRWeek, LOCOG head of PR and media Joanna Manning-Cooper appeared content there had been no PR disaster, emphasising the sheer demand for tickets to the Games. 'Our PR strategy and plan was proactive and creative and helped us sell the tickets. Our priority right now is showing the public just how determined we are to get the British public to the Games.'
The second phase of ticketing opened last week, releasing a further 2.3 million tickets on a first-come-first-served basis for those who were unsuccessful in the opening ballot round.
As the ticket website struggled to handle a massive surge in demand, criticisms of the process and LOCOG's comms made headlines once again.
Some industry experts have questioned the lack of a pro-active response from LOCOG chairman Seb Coe to help neutralise the negative headlines.
But one senior Olympics correspondent told PRWeek they were not surprised by LOCOG's silence on the ongoing issue. The journalist suggested that LOCOG's routine response to negative stories was to 'bury its head in the sand and wait for things to blow over'.
'It's a deliberate strategy by them because they don't want to be associated with anything negative to do with the Games,' said the source.
LOCOG's Manning-Cooper strongly rejected this: 'The notion that we go to ground, don't deal with negative stories and don't fight our corner - I really don't think the media we speak to every day would agree.'
Another PR insider added that there was a 'limit to how many times you can wheel Seb out' to defend the issue.
26 June LOCOG confirms that a further one million new tickets will be offered to the British public next year
24 June More than a million new tickets made available on a first-come-first-served basis to the British public who missed out in the opening ballot
17 June LOCOG announces 2.3 million tickets will be available in the second round of ticket sales
26 April The application process for the opening round of tickets closes
15 March London 2012 Olympic Games tickets go on sale
15 October 2010: London 2012 reveals the ticket prices for the Olympic Games
6.6 million tickets available to the public
2.5 million tickets on sale at a price of £20 or less
26 Number of sports that spectators can go and watch
34 competition venues for the 2012 Olympic Games
London 2012 is a hit on world stage, says expert
The ticketing frenzy for the London 2012 Olympics has done 'enormous good' for Britain's reputation on the world sports stage, one sports PR expert has claimed.
Jon Tibbs, founder of sports consultancy JTA, said the London 2012 organisers were being portrayed 'unbelievably well' in the global media.
While the UK media focus on disappointed sport fans who have failed to secure tickets, he said: 'There is another PR story here and it is the global one. While it's been a PR problem in the UK, internationally the story has played out unbelievably well. Everyone is talking about the unprecedented demand for tickets and reporting positively about London.'
Tibbs, whose clients have included the successful Beijing 2008 Olympic bid, added: 'I'm talking to some of the biggest decision-makers in sport around the world on a daily basis and they are all saying how well London has taken the Olympic brand and really moved it forward.'
Hill & Knowlton's sports marketing and sponsorship MD Andy Sutherden added that positive stories around Olympic ticketing were being buried by negative press in the UK. 'A lot of the sponsors have good positive stories to tell about what they are doing with their contractual allocation of tickets,' he said.