Full disclosure, I love the Olympics. Not just the games but the Movement.
As a marketer, I know I’m not breaking new ground when say I can’t think of a more universal set of values for a brand to align with. And, as the IOC notes on its website, “The Olympic Games are one of the most effective international marketing platforms in the world, reaching billions of people in over 200 countries and territories throughout the world.”
However, in recent years the excitement of the Olympics has seemed to be bookended by scandal, and the spirit of the Games has been tainted by doping, corruption and human rights concerns. Fortunately, this hasn’t been enough to scare off organizations flush with cash trying to bottle the true spirit of the games.
There’s no denying, though, that there is a growing problem that may give some organizations pause as they consider their multi-hundred-million-dollar deals: UK agency Greenlight recently released findings showing nearing half of respondents “were unaffected by whether or not a brand was a sponsor” of the 2012 London Games. Worse, “18% of those surveyed said they didn’t even notice the sponsors.” That’s bad news for the IOC and the wider sports world.
What can be done to raise the marketing value of the games? First, open participation to all athletes, amateur and professional. Second, allow additional on-field and on-uniform advertising. Yes, those are two suggestions that make Olympic purists cringe. However, there is a real opportunity to tap into the global brands of Olympic athletes.
Lastly, reinstate the Olympic Cricket tournament and engage millions of fans from India, Australia, England, West Indies islands, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh, South Africa, Ireland and Afghanistan.
Implementing these ideas could easily help TOP Olympic sponsors see higher recognition and return on their investment, driving up contract value. In turn, the IOC would benefit from increased “revenue to be distributed throughout the entire Olympic Movement and to provide financial support for sport in emerging nations,” ensuring the next generation of athletes a chance to compete on the global stage.