With Rio 2016 now well under way, sponsors are enjoying the global euphoria generated by the Games, and understandably so. The Olympics represents one of the most effective international marketing platforms in the world, reaching billions of people in over 200 countries and territories.
But what can we learn from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games about the value of sponsorship, and how sponsor brands can make the most of Rio?
Four years ago today, we were enjoying an eruption of creative advertising from sponsors demonstrating their support of London 2012, the athletes and the teams. Great campaigns were seen from domestic partners such as British Airways and Lloyds TSB, and new creative precedents were set by global brand partners such as Coca Cola and GE. One of the greatest innovations of the London Games, however, creating a fascinating legacy for the Olympic and Paralympic movements, was the landmark contribution that London made in delivering an altogether new kind of brand value for sponsors – by working with them to engage and benefit the next generation of supporters and consumers.
From the day the Olympic and Paralympic Games were awarded to London in 2005, to the Games themselves in 2012, the Chairman of the London Organising Committee, Lord Coe, made a promise that they would be used to inspire a generation of young people. The extent to which brand sponsors played a key part in delivering this vision marked a turning point in Olympic and Paralympic marketing history.
Alongside an outstanding above-the-line campaign, British Airways memorably launched a £500k fund to help talented young people to fulfil their potential. Adidas launched ‘adizones’ – innovative community multisport facilities. A whole range of sponsors, including EDF Energy and BP, took up the torch of community engagement by working with schools to activate educational programmes that created positive change at grassroots level.
The extent to which brand sponsors worked with young people across the UK was a world first for the Games and a key part of the great success London had in engaging people across Great Britain with the Games. And by having an impact on an entire generation, these programmes delivered something invaluable for brands; a lasting legacy reaching far beyond the summer of 2012.
Undoubtedly, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games marked a shift in attitude towards sponsorship and what activation can mean for both brands and consumers. Brands have continued to align themselves with Team GB and Paralympics GB in the run up to Rio 2016 and are again activating their sponsorship by working with young people and communities.
Aldi, for example, has used star athletes to inspire its Get Set to Eat Fresh programme, offering free, classroom-based resources for young people to build their understanding of healthy eating, cooking and fresh food. This also aligns with the brand’s focus on fresh British produce.
Sponsorship of the Olympic and Paralympic Games can build brand value through awareness and association beyond new creative advertising campaigns. Marketers should understand that through-the-line engagement with schools and communities will create rich relationships with the next generation and their families. As Games fever reaches its peak over the coming weeks, this year’s Olympic and Paralympic brand winners will be those that create a truly lasting impact.