Hill & Knowlton shares in London's Olympic victory

SINGAPORE: London's surprise win in the five-way race for the 2012 Summer Olympics represented a win not only for the city, but also Hill & Knowlton, which had been working on the city's bid since last May.

SINGAPORE: London's surprise win in the five-way race for the 2012 Summer Olympics represented a win not only for the city, but also Hill & Knowlton, which had been working on the city's bid since last May.

H&K, which also represented Athens, Greece, almost 10 years ago, when it secured the 2004 Olympics, led the vast international effort out of its London office. Fourteen other H&K offices around the world played a part in the intricate global wooing process that are the biennial Olympic bidding wars. (Official London celebrations were called off in the wake of the bomb attacks on July 7.)

Giles Morgan, H&K's MD of sports marketing and sponsorship in London, said the firm was "extremely proud" of its involvement in the winning bid. He emphasized that H&K's role was part of a larger commitment by parent company WPP and its head, Martin Sorrell, who served as a "business ambassador" on behalf of the London group.

Morgan said that H&K's extensive worldwide network and previous experience gave it an advantage in designing and implementing such a complex communications plan.

"Because of the political nature of [International Olympic Committee] bidding, communication is not just about dissemination in all of the markets all of the time," he said. "You need to know who you're trying to reach in different markets."

London 2012, the bidding group, will now dissolve. The city will form a new group to coordinate preparations for the actual Games. H&K will have to reapply to be AOR of the new entity.

Now that H&K has two successful bids under its belt, the agency is in the process of developing its services into a fully realized product that clients can turn to when they seek to secure international events.

"There are various people in the network who've worked on these bids and, therefore, will be part of the team," said Morgan. "We'll couple that with the 71 offices in the network ... [so] we have the local market and the international bid unit coming in [to assist a client]."

Not so happy on announcement day were Rubenstein & Associates, which handled New York's bid, and Weber Shandwick, which represented the favored Parisians.

Rubenstein EVP Suzanne Halpin said the agency did not send a team to Singapore to help NYC officials prepare their presentation, and instead stayed in New York to organize a rally at Rockefeller Center in support of the bid. She estimated the crowd at 1,000 people.

Rubenstein will continue its media relations duties on behalf of NYC 2012 for at least the immediate future, but Halpin would not speculate on the city's future plans.

WS representatives in Europe were not available for comment before press time.

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