Time to look to the future

Olympic sponsors have maximised their involvement and must now decide on their legacy says Cohn & Wolfe's Rebecca Grant.

Cast your mind back to Singapore in 2005, and decision day in the race to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Each competing city opened its bid with a film. Each film portrayed the most vibrant and iconic aspects of its city, and could easily have been created by its tourism body. But one film was different. There were no scenes of London or its landmarks in the film that opened our bid (except for reference to a red toy bus). Instead, the focus rested on an opportunity to build a legacy - inspiring young people from across the world with sport: 'The children of today, the athletes of tomorrow and the Olympians of the future.'

According to Marketing magazine, P&G has said its Olympics association will add $500m to sales. Suzi Williams, group marketing and brand director at BT, said the Olympics would build consideration, favourability and purchase.

As well as a sales boost, sponsors will have enjoyed a positive internal impact, taken brands to new audiences and used the Games to forge emotional connections with consumers.

Olympic sponsors have done well to maximise their involvement in the 'greatest show on earth', but with the Games tantalisingly close, the sponsors must now turn their attention to their own legacy.

So what lessons can we learn from the activities of 2012 sponsors?

- Competitiveness is a catalyst for creativity. Generating cut-through was a key concern for Olympic sponsors keen to maximise their investment. EDF Energy creating a low- carbon light show, VisitBritain's David Beckham guide to London's East End and Mini's Britalian Job film featuring former Olympic champions, are examples of creating engaging content.

- Many non-competing sponsors have collaborated to build their legacy.

Samsung and Visa announced an alliance in April 2011 to bring mobile payments to the UK and around the world in the run-up to and during London 2012. P&G's 'Proud Sponsor of Mums' activation has been applauded for cleverly uniting several of its household brands.

- Create impact with 'feel-good' moments that allow consumers to be part of the Games. Innocent's 'Tweet for a Seat' and Cadbury's 'Unwrap Gold' ticket giveaways, and sponsors taking athlete ambassadors into local communities, have deepened brand engagement.

- Tap into emerging trends. Patriotism has been riding high following the Queen's Jubilee. Monitor new trends and the nation's mood to ensure campaigns strike a chord with consumers.

- Don't end online conversations with consumers. Many sponsors will have upweighted their digital and social media resources for the Games. Once they are over, however, it is easy to let conversations with consumers go quiet.

- Sponsors have significantly contributed to athletes' increased recognisability. They should continue to invest in athletes as they epitomise attractive 'highest, strongest, fastest' attributes.

- Non-Olympic brands have a significant opportunity to fill the void after the Games. With ambushing rules redundant and Olympic sponsors having focused significant resources on the Games period, other brands now have an opportunity to come to the fore. Similarly, newsrooms may have overspent to enrich their own Olympics coverage, so it is likely there will be an increased appetite for engaging and relevant PR content.

Unlike at the Games, there can be no photo-finish to decide which brands will take gold when it comes to building a lasting connection with consumers. Legacy takes time. For now, sit back and enjoy the brands in action.


Which brands have gained the most, in profile terms, in the run-up to the Olympics?

Coca-Cola's 'Move to the Beat' activation with Mark Ronson and Katy B to create Coke's song for London 2012, featuring the sounds of five sports, brilliantly tapped into their youth audience's passions.

If your agency was an Olympic sport, which would it be, and why?

It could be the water polo, as we know how to rise up to meet goals and certainly know how to swim when we're dropped in the deep end. Or it would be the heptathlon, as we compete in more than seven challenges each day.

Rebecca Grant is managing director, consumer marketing UK and EMEA, at Cohn & Wolfe

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