Olympic brands must look beyond London

The 2012 Olympic Games are not even half way through, and while London basks in the success of Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony and palpable buzz in the city, brands are already planning for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

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Marketing Week takes a look at how brands are activating their sponsorships during the London Games and beyond as well as at the lessons they are taking from London to Rio.

Live at the Games

The IOC dubbed these games the first social media Olympics long before the events kicked off last week and for the first time, brands have a host of new, real time opportunities to activate their campaigns in response to events as they happen.

Procter & Gamble’s global marketing and brand building officer Marc Pritchard calls it “planned spontaneity” otherwise known as “the oxymoron of oxymorons.”

He says: “Our brands are taking a news room mentality looking at what has happened in the last 24 hours and how can we make our brands more relevant. It’s the right approach – you’re ready and when something happens, you jump on it.”

Brands including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola will also incorporate live content from London 2012 into advertising campaigns after the Games as well as on social media platforms during the event.

Leaving a legacy

Part of Locog’s commitment to host the Games was to ensure that London 2012 left a genuine and positive legacy in the UK, which means that all sponsor brands have a responsibility to do the same.

Jill McDonald, UK CEO of McDonald’s, admits that “legacy” is a word that can be overused. This is why the restaurant chain wanted to leave a “very tangible” legacy, in the form of nationally recognised qualifications for the Games makers it helped to recruit and train, and through its Farm Forward initiative that aims to support the British farming industry.

Cisco is also hoping to create a lasting legacy for the UK technology industry by developing workbooks to help plug the British skills gap in maths and science and help start up businesses and entrepreneurs collaborate.

P&G’s Pritchard told Marketing Week it is preparing to announce further investment in its youth sports initiative as part of its legacy activity for the London Games. The details will be announced later on in the Games but are expected to include further financial investment beyond the $5m announced in January.

For Cadbury, legacy also means leaving something beyond its sponsorship within its own organisation.

It has used its sponsorship activity to improve its marketing capability and as a “test bed” for world first creative marketing technologies that were new that it can go on to use in future marketing and brand activity.

Norman Brodie general manager of the Cadbury London 2012 programme told Marketing Week: “We were the first to use Shazam in the UK to extend TV commercials and we had a world first use of on-pack virtual reality. London 2012 has given us a legacy of marketing assets, with huge scale, to be used across the Cadbury portfolio well beyond 2012.”

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Looking beyond London to Rio

For the next four years, Rio and its brand partners will be preparing to outdo the feats achieved in London from a marketing and social media perspective. The Brazil Tourist Board has already launched a campaign to promote the nation during the London Games and Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff has already said that she thinks Rio 2016 will be “better than London”.

The same is true for brands and it’s like a with one country team passing the baton to the next as global corporations seek to apply learnings from one Olympics to the next.

Jill McDonald, UK CEO of fast food chain McDonald’s says that “there’s a competitive spirit [within McDonald’s] as everyone tries to move the Games on”.

Members of the McDonald’s Russian and Brazilian contingent will spend a week in London during the Games benchmarking and experiencing how it’s being done here in the name of “interactive sharing” across the business.

Keep up to date with what’s going on at the Games on our Olympic 2012 Liveblog.
You can find all our Olympic coverage in one place on our dedicated Olympics page.
Read our special report on how retailers are supporting olympic sponsors in store.

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