Commonwealth Games

Going Swimmingly - Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games bid

By The Drum, Administrator

October 18, 2007 | 8 min read

The potential for promoting the city will be huge if Glasgow is to be awarded the event, something that marketing firms in Manchester found upon hosting the Games five years ago.

Over £600million worth of public and private investment was secured for the east of Manchester, while £2billion in private and public investment is expected to have been spent by around 2017.

The changes to Glasgow, if successful, at the moment are no more than artist sketches and number-cruncher forecasts. But the opportunities for the city, the country - and all that operate within it - are there for the grabbing. If, IF, the bid is successful.

Fronting the city's Commonwealth bid are Lynne McPhee, head of marketing and Rob Shorthouse, head of PR.

Shorthouse has had an interesting career, having been seconded from his work alongside former Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell, down to 10 Downing Street as part of its press team.

It was upon his return that he took on the task of promoting Glasgow's Commonwealth bid. "When I came back up, the first thing that I organised was working with Lynne [McPhee] on the announcement that Glasgow was bidding for the Commonwealth Games. After much haranguing of the First Minister, he allowed me to come over here."

McPhee has worked on the bid for the full three years, coming on board at the start when each Scottish city was putting forward its case to represent Scotland in bringing the games to its shores. "At that time I was working for Glasgow City Council looking after its marketing, culture and leisure. Eventually I was seconded to the bid," she reveals.

Together they have had a budget in the region of £5million to get the country behind the city's bid. A £5m budget that has to stretch a long, long way.

"It has to cover a whole range of things, from travelling to different countries for presentations through to all of the Commonwealth countries coming here for selection. There are the technical surveys, the bid document, the wages of staff, the equipment, everything that we've got comes out of that budget" explains McPhee. Even the flowers now resplendently dressing every nook and cranny of the city centre following the Games' evaluation visits - the last of which has recently completed.

However, of that budget, around a quarter of it has been spent on marketing the bid.

A great deal of support has come from the bid's sponsors such as First Scotrail which has branded its trains and used wraps in order to spread the message across Scotland. Highland Spring has also carried the bid logo on its packaging, while Clydesdale Bank has used in-store counter cards and leaflets to raise the profile to its customers.

McPhee explains: "We've certainly used the resources that are available to us through our major supporters to expand the budget that we have had... We recognise the importance of marketing the bid to Scotland and that’s what bidding is all about, it's about making people aware and then trying to win their vote.

"We've had to tap into resources to make our budget stretch that bit further. But we've used that to really good effect without spending huge amounts."

The campaign has also seen teams travel throughout the country to concerts, sporting events and gatherings, to set up stall and educate the audience, gathering further support for the bid, in a 'cost-effective' manner.

"Through the outreach programme, we communicate with people across Scotland through representatives from local authorities," says Shorthouse. "We also ask for their hel to identify events that are happening - Rock Ness, for example. Once we've identified what's going on, teams will go to those areas in order to really integrate with the event and use it to promote the bid."

The Union, which beat eight agencies for the project, created two high-profile adverts for the marketing push which was launched late on in the bid in June, to coincide with the visit of the ambassadors, and then another in September, while other materials, including the bid document, were created by Navyblue.

The marketing of the bid has been high-profile, but for such a prominent international event - which, if won, will bring hundreds of millions of pounds to the city - a lot of the campaign has been built around the goodwill and enthusiasm of the brands, companies and people of Scotland to ensure it is a success.

McPhee explains that the marketing strategy has been a gradual build towards the final decision as to who will win the bid, a campaign that has only now reached its final stages. "While we saved a lot of our marketing budget for this final year, the emphasis in terms of keeping it in the public eye, fell more on press activity up until now. Now we combine a mixture of press and marketing. Pace, timing and using our resources when and where they are most needed is vital. If we'd spent all our marketing early on, we wouldn't have anything left for this final phase."

Scotland's media has given its backing to the bid and the country's people have also been in full support, with just under two million signing up to get behind the campaign. The one major stumbling block, despite all of the praise that has been heaped on the city by the international delegates, is something that the city cannot legislate for. If Scotland were to lose the bid, it would not be down to a lack of enthusiasm or a lack of facilities, but due to politics. Something the Nigerians are only too happy to utilise.

"The Nigerian message is quite clear in that the Games have never been to Africa, as such, some of the people within the Commonwealth will have sympathy for that message," admits Shorthouse.

Another problem faced by the Bid team is that of media rights. If the fragmentation of the media, and the changing ways that it is consumed, continue at the current pace, it is going to be hard to predict the value attached to any broadcasting or sponsorship rights.

"The media rights are owned by the Commonwealth Games Federation," says Shorthouse. "We will work with them to sell those rights. Earlier on this year, following the evaluation commission, due to the fragmentation of media and because we just don't know how a TV market will transpire in 2014 with the impact of new media, we put an extra £10million aside in contingency, just in case we don’t raise as much money as other games have in the past.

"We're aware that the whole broadcast market is changing and we have plans in place. Should we be successful then we will work with the Federation to look at how we can use the new technology. We want to look at innovative ways to take the games to every part of the Commonwealth.

"We've not put a definitive figure on the media rights yet due to the lack of knowledge of media in 2014 but at this stage, we are confident that we will have a good product to sell."

McPhee attended the Asian Games in December last year as an observer, she went to Sport Accord in Beijing, touring the Olympic Venues in April. The team has presented in places as far a field as Singapore, Sri Lanka and the Isle of Man, and met people from all over the world.

"This week I was in Sri Lanka preparing for the final vote," says McPhee. "Just thinking about it makes me nervous and excited. I can't imagine the minute they read out the result. If we win it will be the best feeling."

Yet, with most of the promotional work coming to an end, it seems strange that a campaign which has garnered so much positive support from a country and has been so successful in raising the profile of the bid, may yet be deemed a failure come 9 November.

Initial projections show that Glasgow and Scotland would benefit significantly from holding the Commonwealth Games:

ï Significant physical regeneration will open up many parts of the city to economic development opportunities ï A net increase of 4 per cent in tourism numbers in the three years following the Games. This equates to roughly £30m to the economy. This does not include any increased conference bookings that the Games may generate.

ï Net economic benefits of £26m for Glasgow

ï Net economic benefits of £81m for Scotland

ï 1000 net jobs in Glasgow and 1200 in Scotland

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