Return on Rio: Are Olympic sponsors properly measuring their impact?

Legacy. We heard a lot about it when London 2012 was in full swing. Legacy for the country. Legacy for the next generation of athletes and Olympic hopefuls. Legacy for our sporting infrastructure. Legacy for our kids in inspiring them to take up sport. And yes – I am sure legacy was at the forefront of the brand marketers’ minds who invested in and sponsored the 2012 Olympic Games.

But did it happen? Did the experience of the Olympics from the schools to the pools, from the classrooms to the boardrooms really deliver the returns that many were espousing and seeking?

A recent study by Mapmechanics published in the Sunday Times highlighted that more than 2,500 sports facilities including athletics tracks, playing fields, swimming pools and tennis courts have disappeared since 2012. These figures raise serious questions over the government’s pledge to make the UK “a world class sporting nation”.

As we all know data can be cut in a myriad of ways to support an argument; indeed Sport England has challenged the above findings. When it comes to quantifying the success or failure of the Rio Olympics (or indeed any of their sponsorship investments) are brands truly measuring the right things or are we stuck in a time warp of outdated media metrics that serve little purpose and reveal very little insight into Return on Experience (ROX)?

Frustration at the lack of ROX measurement in our industry and our clients’ businesses led us to the formation of a partnership with Columbia University professors in the US and saw us design the first ever brand experience health tracker based on a Total Brand Experience Score across a spectrum of touchpoints.

From Olympic sponsors to brands supporting the likes of the LTA, WTA, PGA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Premiership and Champions League football teams, we are striving to transform clients’ analyses of experience as a commercial driver.

We are applying many of these principles to our work already – for Nissan in Rio, ABInbev in the UK, Microsoft in Europe and American Express in the US. Touchpoint heat maps are developed using primary research study findings and incorporating additional research inputs. The Total Brand Experience Map organizes the information into a framework that brands can use to optimize their ROX moving forward.

It is not only the agencies that are recognising and building frameworks around the value of areas like awareness, legacy and experience. A recent interview with BBC Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn stressed the company’s commitment to a long term legacy view towards their Olympic sponsorship and Ghosn’s desire to build long term higher performance through their activities.

At a recent client meeting we discussed the merits of measuring ‘emotion over eyeballs’ and why ‘raising your pulse rate’ can deliver profits. If brands can drive meaningful and correctly measured connection and participation with their consumers through experience, then the art of sponsorship, shopper and experiential marketing stands on the cusp of a new age – unconstrained by the media and ATL metrics of the past.

Every brand is swimming against an Olympic-sized tide of ever-increasing pressure to deliver profit against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, scrutinised marketing budgets, and consumer apathy. Measurement of ROX and the legacy it gives to consumers must be embraced if brands are looking to achieve gold medal winning campaigns both commercially and creatively. We must rouse a world record breaking Adam Peaty gold pool performance lest be left behind like Eric the eel!

Luke D'Arcy is president, UK, at Momentum Worldwide

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