Olympic Round-Up from Innes Associates

Regardless of whether you are a big sports fan or not, the success story of this summer certainly has to be the London 2012 Olympics.  The performance of Team GB surpassed all expectations, the venues worked well and the public simply couldn’t get enough Olympic action.

In the wake of the closing ceremony, other countries were quick to send their messages of congratulations to London for their handling of the Games.

But what of the companies behind the Games? Surely any sponsors’ association with such a global triumph will reap positive rewards? Not necessarily, it would seem.  Consumers are increasingly savvy and difficult to impress – and will be quick to criticise those efforts that fall short of a place on the podium.  Innes Associates takes a light-hearted look at what worked, what didn’t – and what sneaked in through the back door to be a surprise Olympics success story.

Gold medal performances

The team at Innes Associates were so impressed by British Airways Home Advantage campaign that we featured the link to their ‘Take a Flight Down Your Street’ movie on our website in the run-up to the Games.  The movie, which cleverly used Google Streetmap technology to allow viewers to taxi down their own neighbourhood in a BA plane, was part of the company’s wider campaign, which was underpinned by the perhaps controversial but catchy strapline: “Don’t Fly. Support Team GB.”  Missed the movie? You can still catch it here at http://taxi.ba.com.

Sports giant, Adidas, claims to have already recouped the £100m investment it made in London 2012.  Their ‘Take the Stage’ campaign struck an exceptionally successful note – ending with a fun and quirky twist by way of a YouTube movie featuring the sporting stars of the GB team miming to the Queen anthem ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’.  To feel inspired, click here.

Failed to qualify

Visa raised the hackles of many with its “proud to accept only Visa” slogan and associated action of denying Games goers access to any other ATMs within Olympic venues.  The inconvenience to potential customers was compounded when their systems crashed; the company’s decision to use Olympic venues to test a new ‘cashless’ form of payment using mobile phones was always risky and, in this case, proved disastrous.

Meanwhile, Visa’s rivals at Mastercard produced a master stroke by despatching branded vans round London to hand out free whippy ice cream – raising smiles rather than frowns among Olympic visitors.

Surprise stars

Mastercard were not alone in achieving PR success as a non-sponsor.  Viewers – even those who recorded the action and skipped the advertisements – could not fail to miss the many athletes and swimmers sporting Dr Dre headphones as they waited to compete in events.  By setting up a shop on the edge of the Olympic Village and inviting competitors to collect a free pair of headphones, the brand achieved maximum return from a minimal investment.

Also hard to miss were the flourescent Nike trainers sported by many Olympic runners during the Games; a further success on the back of the company’s ‘Make It Count’ campaign, featuring Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe.  Nike engaged further with the public during the Games via its ‘Find Your Greatness’ sports featuring everyday athletes from locations around the world named London.

An opportunistic PR stunt was pulled off with aplomb by SpecSavers.  The company capitalised on the gaffe at the start of the games, which saw the South Korean flag displayed during a football match involving the team from North Korea.  SpecSavers were quick to chime in with their well-known slogan: ‘Should’ve Gone to SpecSavers’.

Parting thoughts

London 2012 has been referred to as the first ‘social media’ Olympics and American broadcaster NBC came in for criticism for failing to broadcast events live as Stateside viewers had often learned the results online prior to watching the events on TV.  The volume of Facebook fans following Team GB throughout the duration of the games, with people desperate to hear of the latest home successes.

As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, therefore, the most successful sponsors will be those who think beyond the ‘traditional’ options and extend their efforts to incorporate new media platforms.

That said, Channel 4 – official broadcaster of the Paralympic Games – used traditional billboard advertising to great effect in the run-up to the event launch.  Their message? ‘Thanks for the warm-up’. Advertising genius.