The PR Show: Can the Olympic Games deliver gold-medal value to sponsors?

In PRWeek's latest podcast, a panel of sports marketing experts discuss whether the Olympic dream still works for sponsors, how brands are preparing for the Tokyo games, the latest on Euro 2020 and Manchester City’s ban.

In the dugout: Arvind Hickman, Tim Ellerton, Jamie Wynne-Morgan, Nick Meakin and Jamie Corr.
In the dugout: Arvind Hickman, Tim Ellerton, Jamie Wynne-Morgan, Nick Meakin and Jamie Corr.

Team GB is on track to deliver its strongest commercial programme of any Olympic Games aside from London 2012.

The British Olympic Association’s commercial director Tim Ellerton told PRWeek’s podcast The PR Show that while the home London Games was an anomaly in terms of commercial interest,  they had a similar interest in Tokyo: “Maybe not in terms of revenue, but certainly in terms of the number of sponsors and brands involved.

Ellerton was one of four panelists in an Olympic Games special podcast alongside H+K’s new MD of sport Jamie Corr, M&C Saatchi sport and entertainment UK CEO Jamie-Wynne Morgan and The Playbook’s head of sport, Nick Meakin. 

He said Team GB is expected to take about 380 athletes to Tokyo, which is larger than the 366-strong Rio Olympics team that won 67 medals, including 27 gold.

“The success of Team GB in 2016, backing up the performance of 2012 by coming second in the medal table, means that brands are interested in what we are about in terms of a team that really does bring the whole country together,” Ellerton said.

Brands’ attraction to the Olympic Games is multifaceted. The recent success of Team GB is an obvious draw, as is the prestige of being associated with the Olympic Games movement. 

Ellerton said brands are also attracted to seemingly endless supply of good stories behind athletes, which is “something brands are aspiring too and where our conversations are developing more and more”.

“The Olympics is one of those few occasions in life that really does bring all countries together,” Ellerton added. 

“Our country in particular has had quite a divisive time recently, which is why our campaign has all been around what we do to bring the country together and get behind the team.”

M&C Saatchi Sports & Entertainment UK CEO Jamie Wynne-Morgan told The PR Show the Olympic Games consistently attracts a global TV audience of four billion people – only second to the FIFA World Cup – which from a sports sponsorship perspective, “us huge”.

“It’s such a unique event compared to other sports as it only happens every four years and the fact that the majority of athletes are still considered non-professional and have to train day in, day out for four years,” he said.

“The stories from the Olympics are unlike any other sport. Brands buy into the stories they can align themselves with; if they can find the right insight that’s right for their brand – and with the Olympics there will be so many – it’s still a huge draw.”

H+K’s new MD of sport Jamie Corr says the key for brands will be understanding “what their space is” and how they can use their partnerships to tell their stories.

The panel also discussed how brands are looking to capitalise on the Olympic campaigns (including a bedding brand and real estate sponsor), whether there are too many Olympic partners to get decent cut-through, and Rule 40, which protects Olympic partners and could prove a hurdle to other brands who sponsor athletes.

Later in the show, the panel moves on to Euro 2020 sponsorship and discusses what they think will happen in Manchester City’s bid to quash a two-year Champions League ban.

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