Sir Martin Sorrell: ‘Olympic legacies stalling’

WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell has warned that London 2012 sponsors may struggle to complete their long-term legacy initiatives claiming that some brands’ commitment to their post-Olympic campaigns are already starting to “fluctuate” because of a lack of economic visability.

Sir Martin Sorrell
London 2012 sponsorship legacies hampered by economic woes, says WPP chief.

Speaking at an event hosted by WPP’s Hill and Knowlton Strategies last week (13 December) Sorrell said clients of the communications network’s creative, media and PR agencies that sponsored the Games are finding the task of meeting their objectives “challenging”.

Sorrell said: “The Olympic legacy is something we’ve been monitoring closely. We’re already seeing the commitment from some our clients start to fluctuate as a result of tough economic conditions. Clients are planning on a quarter-by-quarter basis, which has made it challenging for them to be able to plan their legacy strategies.”

No brands were named but WPP agencies did produce activity for Adidas and P&G.

Sponsors were quick to adopt the Games ‘Inspire a Generation’ official slogan when describing the lasting impact their campaigns will have across the UK. For Procter & Gamble, the FMCG company’s legacy push involves offering grants to existing and new coaches through a partnership with coaching organisation Sports Coach UK, while Lloyds set up the Local Heroes athlete support programme and emphasised the need to make Olympic campaigns relevant to local communities.

Some London 2012 partners however, such as Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have said that they have not set specific targets for improving health and sports participation levels in the wake of the Games and claimed that their legacy plans are “a work in progress.”

Sponsorship experts have noted that schools and grassroots sports will be an important area for brands to consider when extending their Olympic programmes. Both Cisco and EDF Energy have set up education programmes across the UK to attract younger talent.

Sorrell’s claims come as sponsors including McDonalds and BT are in talks with government-backed charity Join In Local Sport to launch a series of initiatives to encourage people to sigh up to their local sports clubs.

Earlier this year, Lord Seb Coe told Marketing Week that sponsors’ investment in the Games has changed the “face of East London” in a way that politicians would not have been able to.

Separately, Sorrell said the Games has changed the “psyche of brands” on the “contribution live sports” can make to marketing strategies.

He adds: “There will be more commercial interest in the Commonwealth Games now because of how successful London 2012 was but it will not be on the same level as either the Olympics, the World Cup or Formula One.”

Sorrell also called for an integration of the Olympic and Paralympics events, claiming the chance to sell sponsorship packages around integrated events would be a “very powerful” draw for advertisers.



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