Working the Olympics

Most businesses, faced with a proposal to partner an Olympic Games, don’t have a clue where to start. Why would they? Most businesses’ understanding of sponsorship is a combination of logo exposure and hospitality.

But the Olympics, broadcast globally, without media exposure for the sponsors: it throws out the sponsorship rulebook.

The risk and reward of Olympic partnership are high.

And the true value of Olympic sponsorship is frequently misrepresented by academics, by sponsorship agencies, by organising committees.

Despite the challenge in discerning fact from fiction in the self-assessment of Olympic partners, one thing is clear: the difference between success and failure is 100% within the control of the business.

We thought this book could make a useful contribution to the literature on sponsorship for a number of reasons:

  • most explorations of Olympic marketing are either biographical, primarily the excellent accounts of Michael Payne and Dick Pound; or academic and for all their relative strengths, neither is written from the perspective of business
  • the scale of an Olympic partnership is unparalleled by any other sponsorship: even if brands begin by thinking they can isolate the association from the rest of business, the Games are simply too big to ignore
  • the absence of intrinsic media exposure in itself obliges examination to focus on how partners create value from their association and Olympic IP
  • sponsorship is commonly thought of as a channel whereas it’s better conceived as a model for marketing: this book explores some of the ways the model can be flexed

Our intention is to help businesses contemplating either a domestic or a global relationship with the Olympics do so in fuller awareness of what Redmandarin would call the pre-conditions for success.

Included in the book, we have interviews with John Bennett from Visa, Thierry Borra and Peter Franklin from Coca Cola, Peter Foss from GE, along with high level representatives from many London 2012, Vancouver 2010 and Sydney 2000 sponsors.

‘Working the Olympics’ was published on 9th May 2012.