Making Sport Pay: Sport as a Marketing Medium
As the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games move ever closer, as does the European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine, marketing activity centred around sporting opportunities have visibly increased in recent weeks. Rory Maxwell from MediaCom SPORT discusses why brands should consider such a sporting event as the Olympics as a sponsorship opportunty worth investing in.
Why Sponsor the Olympics?
The Olympics is unlike any other communications platform that exists. Most case studies of past activations demonstrate significant benefit to sponsors relative to their objectives and this is why the Olympic sponsorships are so sought after and carry such a premium pricing.
The Games provide brands with a compelling positioning statement and a strong global platform that is locally relevant in every market on the planet. This provides a hugely flexible yet meaningful communications platform that IOC sponsors can exploit in myriad different ways although most are generally trying to create, confirm or change global public opinions of their brands.
Local LOCOG sponsors are hoping to use the once in a lifetime opportunity that the Games offer to boost their national profile and demonstrate commitment to the people of the UK. There will be public facing, consumer benefits to this, but there will almost certainly be additional behind the scenes benefits, for example in terms of relationships with government and on the B2B front
How will Media activation influence the success of their sponsorships?
Clearly there are already extensive ATL campaigns live now in the build up to the games. However, the London Games are being touted as the “social games” and, given how little advertising can take place around the games itself with coverage on the BBC, sponsors will need to be more inventive in their activation initiatives while also connecting with audiences whose consumption of media has changed beyond recognition since we last hosted an Olympic Games.
Media channels today are both increasingly connected and mobile. Consumers not only want to share engaging content with their friends, they want to be entertained wherever they are, they want up-to-date information and entertainment on the move delivered to their mobile connected devices. We’ve already seen numerous social media and online activations from sponsors such as Coke’s “move to the beat” or Samsung’s “How Olympic are you?”
There will be a huge swelling of people in London in particular during the Games and these people will be actively seeking out help, advice and entertainment. Brands who look to engage the public and help people access entertaining and engaging content they can share, will benefit hugely. In spite of the fact that this may be seen to create clutter, the fact is that good/creative use of media – in particular digital and social – will stand out. Brands that are prepared to take a risk and try out some new initiatives have the opportunity to create some brand fame and soak up a huge amount of learning and information in a short space of time.
Will Olympic sponsors be successful?
The fact that the majority of Olympics sponsors are brands who are either long term partners to the IOC or established sports sponsorship brands in their own right, might indicate that these are companies who have experience of ,and belief in, the power of sponsorship marketing to achieve meaningful aims. Most of these sponsor brands have been activating their sponsorships for some time already, though this has visibly started to increase since the start of this year. We believe most brands will achieve most of their aims based on the objectives they had for the sponsorship in the first place.
It’s true that there are some, such as Dow Chemicals and BP, who have had negative feedback from the public about their Olympics associations, but most sponsors are more consumer facing and able to bring their associations to life in ways that engage and entertain the public. We don’t expect these brands to get it wrong in London this summer. There will never be a London Olympics again in our lifetimes, so there is really no excuse for not throwing the kitchen sink at leveraging this event. Those that do could steal a critical advantage over their competitors.
Rory Maxwell will be one of the speakers at MediaCom's 'Making Sport Pay' event, which will be held in Edinburgh on 10 May. Tickets can be purchased through the website, priced at £10 for IPA/Marketing Society members and £25 for non-members.