Was it beneficial to be an official Olympic sponsor?


The Olympics came to a close last week, hailed as a resounding success.  We all watched the events unfold, shouting at our televisions, willing on Team GB. But at the end of one of the most successful Games in history what have the official sponsors been asking themselves? Have the Olympics been a resounding success in their minds? They maybe feeling nervous for a very different reason than out athletes were on the starting line; what will the financial results at the end of the year be?

No one can argue against the success of the games; in fact the only real bad press that arose was down to the empty front row seats that were made highly visible by our HD T.Vs with much finger wagging directed at the official sponsors. To rub salt in the wound, Lord Coe failed to thank the Sponsors during his speech at the closing ceremony. Could it be that Lord Coe was not entirely pleased with how the successful the sponsors were at ‘enhancing the Olympic games’?

When asked prior to the opening Ceremony who the sponsors were, only 24% were able to name any. On a positive note this increased to 35% once the games had begun. The chocolate lovers amongst us know all about the official snack partner, the burger lovers all about the world’s largest Maccy Ds, traffic jammed Londoners will know all about the official vehicles zipping past them and the World’s Favourite Airline has successfully delivered teams from all over the globe. Yet BrandRepublic stated only ‘5% of the general public could name more than 5 official sponsors’.  I am sure this is not a figure to go down in their record books.

London 2012 was the ‘social media games’, for the first time social media has played an important role in marketing the Olympics and acting as a new platform for fans to engage with the Games. Despite organisers’ best efforts to avoid guerrilla marketing, this has resulted in unofficial brands being able to piggy back off the success of international events. Nike, who had previously been official sponsors of the Olympics, have milked this social media tool. According to a study by Brandwatch the Nike ‘#makeitcountcampagin’ has resulted in them outpacing Adidas as the apparel brand most associated with London 2012. The Nike offices must be cracking open the Champagne; they have gained the most exposure without the large expenses that come with being a Sponsor.

And it’s not just the corporations who have muscled in on the act. Post London 2012, it looks as though the athletes have been effective at building their personal brands. Think Olympics, think Usain Bolt, think Virgin Media.

So sponsors, was it worth it? Perhaps not, but we must all remember that the main drive of most business is financial. So the question can only be truly answered when the sums are in. Let’s wish them all luck, something tells me they may need it!


Slogan vs. brand promise

A funny thing happened the other day. After a roguish water bottle exploded in my bag, my work diary was looking less than smart, so I ordered a mid-year A5 black day-to-a-page diary on Amazon. I specifically wanted a black one – always slick and classic.

A few working days later and I receive my package on time and unwrap it, eager to write my first to-do list on the fresh, new pages. Organisation Central, here I come!

To my dismay and, frankly, annoyance, this is what I was greeted with:


Yup, it’s red. And by way of explanation? A carefully written Post-It note: “Sorry. Red only.”

Well, sorry Amazon seller, but I didn’t want a red one; if I had, I would have ordered a red one! I felt like scrawling underneath: “Sorry. Only ordered black” and sending it back.  But that in itself is an annoyance; now I have to re-wrap it and make an unplanned trip to the Post Office. All they needed to do was send me an email to let me know.

Amazon has a brilliant reputation but this was not good form from one of its ‘trusted’ sellers. It got me thinking about brand promise and expectation, so I checked to see what Amazon’s slogan is on the website, ready to tear it apart with my recent poor customer service experience. After all, a brand is only truly successful if it delivers on its promise all the way through the consumer experience.

But Amazon has no slogan to tear apart. Interesting; I hadn’t realised that before. I guess, when you’re as big as Amazon and everyone knows who you are and what you do (normally very well, I might add), do you need a slogan at all? Google, Starbucks and Virgin clearly don’t think so.

Is not having a slogan a cop out? Arguably it is one way of not having to live up to a very high expectation, which if a brand (inevitably) doesn’t reach every time, might “undershoot and sully” its reputation, as Helen Edwards asks in her recent Marketing magazine column. Maybe, but she goes on to make the important point that, “It is more subtle than that. You can bet that a great brand like Google, with smart marketers on board and skilled agencies alongside, could devise a stunning sign-off if it chose to”.

Whether a brand chooses to have a slogan or not, one thing’s for sure – actions speak louder than words. On that note, I wish Nike did diaries, JUST in black.

Nike – They really did write the future

I’ve loved the World Cup so far, in fact I’ve come to a loss now there isn’t a game every day.  And to be honest, the games are rather more exciting now that one team has to win.

Admittedly, the World Cup hasn’t been without its disappointments, and I don’t need to state the obvious as you all know what I’m talking about. But it’s not only the English, French and Italian fans who are feeling totally put out by their national side.  One has to spare a thought for the king of football brands –Nike.

Nike spent an absolute fortune on their TV ad for the World Cup, and most of that money most probably went on the starring footballers. But not one of the star-studded players has even remotely performed at this year’s World Cup and now they have all gone home and left the tournament with their heads bowed.  Ronaldhino wasn’t even picked for the Brazilian side, Ribery was part of the shocking debacle that was the French team, whilst Wayne Rooney was voted as one of the most disappointing player of the tournament so far by a Guardian poll.

I’d personally love to see Wayne Rooney grow a beard and move to a caravan (I’m an Arsenal fan)…! But what really struck me, now that England are finally out, is the truth in the Write the Future ad. Nike tapped into the real emotions that a nation feels around a World Cup and magnified it, brilliantly. A whole nation can turn hope and belief into hatred and contempt and put all that on the shoulders of one person. Wayne Rooney has even pulled out of the A3:K challenge scheduled for the 19th July at the O2 for fear of the public backlash after his poor performance in South Africa. Just look at the public reaction after Beckham’s red card in 2002; at least this year we’ve not seen any effigies, thank goodness. 

Perhaps Nike are to blame for his shockingly bad performance – Wayne saw the future and it scared him, scared him so much he forgot how to use his legs and feet.

Oh, and just for the record my money’s on Spain.

What’s next for Celebrity Endorsement?

The last six months have not been good for Tiger Woods. Revelations of his private life were sprawled across the press resulting in three major sponsors pulling the plug; Accenture, AT&T, and most recent recently sports drinks company, Gatorade.


Following this, it seems that more companies are coming to understand the potential drawbacks of the celebrity spokesperson paradigm; Tiger Woods is simply the most obvious example of what can go wrong.

But let’s take a step back and have a look at what actually makes celebrity endorsements so powerful?

Celebrities transfer their positive qualities in adverts, such as their talent, reputation and likeability, onto the product. In numerous ways, they also act as the brand’s spokesperson, providing credibility and the thumbs up in the eyes of their hero worshipping public.

Celebrity endorsements can and do raise awareness across the public sphere whilst increasing a product’s appeal. The endorsements also influence the buying decisions of fans wanting to emulate their favourite stars – hence the reason so many brands are happy to pay millions for a brief share of a celebrities’ limelight.

Take Barack Obama as another example, Brand Obama is still regarded as the World’s number one brand due to the global popularity of the president. His unofficial endorsement of Blackberry is even estimated to be worth over 30 million dollars in marketing – and the best part is that he hasn’t been paid to do it.  

New deals are continuing to be rolled out, including Olympian Michael Phelps staring in the new Subway commercials, with industry experts believing, if anything, the use of celebrity endorsers seem to be making a comeback, with the draw of big names being stronger than ever – partially as result of so many stars using social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to establish one-to-one connections with consumers.

It’s been just a little over two weeks since Tiger Woods’ cringing public apology for being unfaithful to his wife, and he is already back on the golf course working on his long-time swing and preparing his comeback. Amazing isn’t it? I can’t help but think Woods’ comeback to golf may prove easier than his return to the heights of celebrity endorsement.

Needless to say, the fact still remains that the idea of having a famous face to front an advertising campaign can give brands that extra special ingredient that can help it stand out. But as more and more stars pull down their brands, is another kind of celebrity endorsement in order? Tiger Woods may survive the criticisms fired at him over the past few months, but will his individual brand fight through? I’m not convinced.