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Olympic sponsorship rule changes can benefit athletes and brands, says TeamGB gold medallist Amy Williams

Amy Williams

The decision to allow non-sponsors to work with Olympians during the Olympic and Paralympic games is a positive sign for athletes and brands in spite of the tension it might cause with official partners, argued Amy Williams, an Olympic gold medallist who is the Superfans Campaign Ambassador Panasonic and TeamGB.

The electronics business is one of those official backers – of both the Rio Olympics and Team GB – that could be at risk from a rule change by Olympic bosses that means they will compete with non-sponsors during both the Olympics in August and the Paralympics in September.

The changes open up more opportunities for brands to leverage the global attention around the event and it gives the competing athletes the chance to continue working with the sponsors that have helped them on the journey there.

“If you’ve have a local company support your whole entire career and you’re proud of them then you’ll naturally want to promote your relationship with them and say thank you for the part they’ve played in getting you there,” says Williams.

Choosing the right brand ambassador for a tournament or event can be completely undermined if the relationship between brand and ambassador eludes a public who have become increasingly cynical of brands and their unwillingness to hold sporting organisations to account for corruption.

“Everything that takes pressure off the athletes, teams and coaches and makes life stress free so athletes can concentrate on their performance is huge,” said Williams who is heading the brand’s #Superfans Olympics campaign.

In doing this, brands can strike resonance with their ambassadors and strengthen the image of the relationship by injecting their own DNA into the relationship. As a leader in electronics Panasonic have attempted to do this with the TeamGB athletes in the kitting out process.

By supplying TeamGB with equipment Panasonic has been able to bring meaning to its presence in the Olympics while also assisting the athlete.

Williams points out that during the kitting out process Panasonic “gave out equipment including cameras the team could use to record and then assess their performances to "identify any areas needing improved upon”.

In addition to this, electronics giant has also tried to cater to athletes' sporting needs by giving TeamGB athletes headphones to wear during their training. It captured this in its coverage of the kitting out process in an effort to tap into the moments which shape the experience for the athletes too. It could also be an attempt to ward off the advances of Beats, which gifted London 2012 in what has become one of the most successful ambush stunts in recent times.

“People may not realise it but things like the kitting day are a really significant part of the build-up and they always standout in athletes’ memories so by capturing moments like this Panasonic are not only showing how they are involved but also how much it means to the team," explained Williams. "it’s those little things which make it really special for an athlete and I always remember those moments.”

To view more marketing insights into Rio 2016 visit The Drum’s Olympics hub here.

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