OPINION3 May 2011

London 2012 – brand marathon not a brand sprint

Are you ready for the bombardment that your senses are going to receive from sponsors over the next twelve months in what could easily become the most branded Olympics ever?

Did you book your Olympics tickets? Are you concerned that you might actually get the £10,000-worth you ordered and will have to pay the whole hog? Or are you heartily sick of the whole thing with more than a year still to go?

Given the minor furore over the ticketing process for London 2012 – namely the fact that you could only purchase tickets online with a Visa card – are you as an ordinary punter ready for the sheer bombardment that your senses are going to receive from sponsors over the next twelve months in what could easily become the most branded Olympics ever?

It’s the brands themselves that perhaps need to be most concerned. In the enormous advertising and sponsorship noise of the Olympics, with all its commercial cacophony, the effectiveness of individual brands’ activities and voices are bound to be diluted.

Brands which simply hang up their running shoes for the duration of the Olympics will inevitably come nowhere but brands which adopt guerrilla tactics rather than carpet bombing, stand a chance of prevailing over bigger spending brands like Visa and have the potential to make more of an impact, especially in a modern media and communication landscape. So I would recommend adopting a more subtle strategy than compelling people to use your brand or dominating consumer consciousness by sheer ubiquity. This way brands can still enjoy the benefits of a mass heightened attention to the Olympic shared spectacle but retain personality and integrity.

The key for non-sponsoring brands is to carefully plan their activity for maximum impact. It’s not only how loud your voice is, but what you’re saying that is going to be important. And research has an important role to play, exploring how off beat and subtle communication strategies might work, co-creating ideas that will enable brands which haven’t bought their place on the podium to punch above their weight against heavyweight and heavy spending rivals.

And as for Visa and its monopoly on online purchasing… this seems to me to be an oddly one-sided conversation for any brand (especially a financial services brand) to be having with consumers at the moment. They seem to be sailing close to the wind in terms of balancing the benefits of being the sole credit card voice with the danger that they might be seen to be telling consumers what to do. After all, in the Olympics proper we won’t be cheering an athlete for winning the 100 metres by virtue of being the only competitor on the track.


1 Comment

10 years ago

You can be sure that any ambush attempts are going to be met with very punitive actions by the organisers. The most effective sponsors results will be driven by the activation of the London 2012 sponsorship itself. It's certainly not at all about awareness but it is all about translating passion and gratitude into consumer response. Emotional marketing at its best.

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