I have to confess to a vested interest - Four Communications manages Lloyds Banking Group's London 2012 PR and has been involved from the beginning of its partnership in March 2007.
Although I've been with Four for only six months, I admit that the lure to join was because of the desire to be involved in what I feel is the strongest and most exciting London 2012 sponsorship programme.
So what makes Lloyds TSB the strongest London 2012 partnership programme and why did the public recently rate it as the most widely recognised domestic partner? There are four core reasons.
Adopting a community-focused position.
Lloyds TSB uses its London 2012 partnership to provide its customers and communities with an opportunity to be closer to the Games. That is being done by providing 1,500 pairs of Games tickets to customers, supporting 1,000 future stars of Team GB and ParalympicsGB by 2012, and inspiring more than four million children to participate in sport through National School Sport Week.
This 'bringing the Games closer to you' positioning is at the core of Lloyds TSB's partnership.
The benefits of this approach are recognised not only in the local community but also have a positive impact on Lloyds TSB. For example, customers feel more positive about the brand when they are aware of these community programmes than when they are only aware of the London 2012 sponsorship.
'Olympifying' existing marketing budgets.
This activity is an additional cost over and above the actual rights fee, but clever use can be made of existing budgets rather than campaigning for extra funds. This 'Olympification' of existing spend is increasingly being implemented by sponsors who would be investing in PR, above the line, digital or employee engagement programmes regardless of sponsorship. Lloyds TSB has also ensured that London 2012 is its sole focus from a sponsorship perspective so there are no conflicting demands on resources.
Consistent messaging around core activation programmes.
The partnership provides an opportunity to unify and enhance regular ongoing comms and to develop consistent and compelling messages around core activation programmes, such as promoting the opportunity to become part of the London 2012 Olympic torch relay by nominating someone who has made a difference in their community.
Setting clear goals and phases along the journey.
During the build-up to the Games, Lloyds TSB has had to maintain business as usual and still deliver against its core business goals. A phased approach has provided Lloyds TSB with key milestones along this journey to help maintain business and brand focus.
At each phase of its London 2012 journey, Lloyds has identified key messages to share with its core audiences that have helped reinforce the overall campaign of 'bringing the Games closer to you'.
Next year there will be an increase in activation from other London 2012 and Olympic partners. However, if Lloyds TSB continues to build upon its community heritage and reinforces the messages it has spent the past five years clearly communicating, it should maintain its position as the most recognised London 2012 domestic partner.
From 2012 onwards, Lloyds TSB will also have earned the right to continue its dialogue in this area, whether an Olympic partner or otherwise.
VIEWS IN BRIEF
What is the key to great sponsorship activation?
It is not about huge budgets and short-term 'stunts' but about building on your activation and bringing your customers and stakeholders with you.
What style of comms will most successfully link a brand to London 2012?
A partner has to be true to its brand values and core audiences and adopt a style of comms that is relevant and credible for its own organisation.
Which Olympic sport most closely resembles your business philosophy?
Management directs strong individuals and star performers spur colleagues on towards the greater goal. It has to be road cycling.