B2B brands big and small have made the most of the marketing opportunities that have come as a result of this summer’s Olympic Games. But do these opportunities dry up when the athletes leave? Maxine-Laurie Marshall investigates
The London 2012 Olympic Games have arrived. Despite only lasting six weeks, the UK has been told the legacy benefits from the Games will continue long into the future. In 2008, the Government published the Legacy Action Plan that detailed five legacy promises including, ‘Demonstrating the UK is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live in, visit and for business’. But how can B2B marketers tap into the valuable legacy the Games will leave behind?
To start with, don’t assume it’s only the official partners who can benefit from their involvement in this global event. Robert King, general manager of hospitality at software provider ClickSquared, advises businesses to think about the long term. He encourages brands to use the opportunity to leverage the increase in visitor numbers in order to develop tailored global communications for the future. He says, “Through effective customer dialogue management, companies will have the opportunity to create a global database of customers – likely to want to use the brand time and again – ensuring a truly loyal customer.”
Maximise lead gen potential
This lead generation and nurturing opportunity is one Freddie Baveystock, consultant at digital agency Rufus Leonard, also advises brands to make the most of. The vast corporate hospitality potential around the Games is an ideal beginning and it’s then up to marketers to capitalise on this after the Olympics. Baveystock says, “Perhaps the most valuable legacy of the Games for businesses will be the enhanced personal relationships built through corporate hospitality. Experiencing something as genuinely ‘once in a lifetime’ as the Olympics together will undoubtedly open the way to deeper relationships between host and guest.”
Interestingly, Nigel Cooper, divisional managing director of P&MM Events and Communications, advises smaller businesses who perhaps didn’t have the budget to get involved to steer clear of actual events during the Games. He says, “For marketers and brands wanting to make the most of the Olympic connection and legacy, my advice is to avoid London during the Games and hold events afterwards instead. Take your guests in peace and comfort to London’s sites they would have seen on TV, especially the newly developed areas that will be draw cards for events and launches.”
He reflects, “The Beijing Olympics showed us that after the event there was major interest in visiting the Chinese capital.”
Brands that can count themselves among the official sponsors or partners shouldn’t just rest on those exclusive laurels during the event. They must develop a solid legacy strategy to ensure maximum ROI.
Cisco, official network infrastructure provider of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, will continue its advertising campaign throughout 2012 and has launched several long-running programmes. They include the British Innovation Gateway designed to ‘help foster an environment of entrepreneurship within the UK’ and Cisco Network Academies, designed to offer young people from East London the chance to gain IT qualifications.
When explaining why it felt the need to continue its marketing strategy beyond the Games, Ian Symes, marketing director – UK, Ireland & London 2012 at Cisco says, “It has proved to be a very successful differentiator for our business and was always a fundamental part of our marketing strategy. Several other sponsors have left legacy late into their campaigns and are therefore struggling to gain traction.”
IT company Atos, is another brand hot on the legacy trail. It has been the worldwide IT partner for the Olympic Games since 2001, and will continue with the partnership past 2012 into the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. Speaking about its ongoing programme, David Burnand, global head of marketing operations at Atos says, “Our Olympic Games marketing work is an ongoing project. That’s an area in which we differ from some of the other partners.
“As we deal with global customers, our legacy will continue through to Rio and hopefully beyond, although we obviously expect interest in the UK to peak after the Games in London.”
Wider business opportunities
It’s worth noting not all B2B brands involved in the Olympics have automatic marketing rights. Even if a business has won a contract to provide a service at the Games, unless they’re an official sponsor or partner, strict rules state they are not allowed to publicise their involvement. However, this only applies until after the Games have ended – LOCOG then relaxes its rules allowing any contracted brand to tap into lucrative legacy benefits. Of course, most companies will want to tell as many people as possible about their involvement in the Games – so we could potentially see the legacy floodgates open post-summer.
From the various ways brands can get involved, there seems to be scope for every brand to tap into the legacy of the ‘greatest show on earth’. And of course, the same thinking can be applied to any industry, sporting or cultural event. All it takes is some lateral thinking and a solid strategy to help you make the most out of a potential opportunity.
Competitors cash in
In April, Opinium Research asked 2000 UK adults who they thought were official sponsors. Visa, British Airways and Lloyds TSB may be sad to learn MasterCard, Virgin Atlantic and HSBC were incorrectly assumed to be sponsors by 20, 18 and 14 per cent of the public respectively.
While piggy-backing someone else’s campaign is not advisable, maintaining a high profile among your customers while your competitor is running a campaign can work in your favour.