Q&A with Visit London director of marketing and communications Martine Ainsworth-Wells

Martine Ainsworth-Wells has just been promoted to director of marketing and communications at Visit London as the capital begins the final run up to hosting the Olympics in 2012. Marketing Week caught up with Ainsworth-Wells to ask a few questions about leveraging the games and the challenges the event presents.

MW – Visit London is not the body tasked marketing the London 2012 Olympics but how does it plan to leverage the games for London’s benefit?

MAW – There are numerous opportunities to take advantage of the spotlight that London will be under for the next 18 months. Firstly the world’s media is already coming to London to scope out their coverage from now until and during the games. We’re working with rights holders and non-rights holders to ensure they can access London and cover the city’s inspiring the world class visitor product. It’s the best free advertising opportunity we’ll ever get.

Secondly, National Olympic Committees and sponsors plan to have multiple venues and activations across the city pre and during the games. We are working with them all to help source locations and venues for their activity. This activity will be of economic benefit but also add to the vibrancy of product we offer our visitors.

MW – What media channels is Visit London likely to use in marketing the capital going forward into 2012?

MAW- We’ll continue to utilise a wide portfolio of channels – both PR, traditional and social media. I envisage our activity will continue to move into social media and digital space.

MW – What are the biggest challenges in marketing London to the world?

MAW – The threat of displacement due to our Olympic host city status. Visitors staying away due to perceived expense and disruption is well documented phenomenon that cities face in the lead up to the games. We’re putting together a series of unique plans targeting our key markets to counter this. We believe it’s critical to be pro-active about this issue to mitigate and potentially avoid a short fall. We’ll be launching “Limited Edition London” in autumn 2011 to answer this challenge. This will be a multi-media campaign that will promote unique and one off events that will only be happening in London and only in 2012. Eg World Pride. In the long term there’s no doubt there is a benefit for London.

MW – What nations are being targeted as holding the most potential as visitors?

MAW – The countries being targeted in the run up to the Olympics include France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, USA, Canada and Australia.

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