Olympic Sponsorship: Remember the Positives 30th July, 2012

Whilst awareness of Olympic-association is of course growing for official sponsors of the Games, the recent controversy surrounding LOCOG’s increasingly stringent sponsorship policies and the subsequent public outrage is resulting in certain sponsorships becoming dangerously close to having an adverse effect on certain brands – quite a significant problem after investing hundreds of millions with the aim of using the platform to enhance brand perceptions.

Although some sponsors may have demanded a little too much exclusivity i.e. Visa and McDonalds, the latest issues have taken complaints to a new level. The first concerns Coca-Cola and Lord Coe’s comment stating that attendees ‘probably wouldn’t be walking in (to the Olympic Village) with a Pepsi T-shirt’ which is, of course, ridiculous. Despite the off-chance of hundreds of fans herding into the Village wearing Pepsi-branded clothing, this would have miniscule, if any, effect on either brands’ perception or the Olympic campaigns, activations and initiatives executed by Coca-Cola. The second issue is the numerous events proving to be half empty due to ticket allocations not being utilised – this resulting in understandable public outrage however the blame spreads across multiple parties including National Olympic Committees, the IOC and the media in addition to sponsors.

With a negative cloud beginning to descend over the concept of sponsorship in general, I wanted to add to the refreshing comments of Evening Standard Editor, Sarah Sands’ recent article shedding some light on why ‘sponsors are the good guys not the villains’.

On the whole, sponsors are providing vital products and services to the Olympics whilst simultaneously raising awareness of the event in all corners of the world. Acer, the official computing equipment partner of the Games, has been responsible for the installation of an enormous technology infrastructure – no small feat and a significant cost saved for LOCOG. Likewise for GE who have contributed heavily towards key infrastructures across transportation, energy, lighting and medical equipment. Coca-Cola, despite the controversy over branding and health, have invested millions in grass roots sports and vow that 75% of their products consumed at the Games will be sugar-free. With significant value being added by all Olympic partners, the positives of sponsorship significantly outweigh the negatives. (Of course, there is also the added benefit that they provide hundreds of millions of pounds in revenue and in turn lower the cost of the Games to the tax-payer.)

It is important to remember that the art of successful sponsorship is creating a relationship that simultaneously benefits the sponsor, the audience and the rights holder with it ultimately being the responsibility of the latter i.e. LOCOG to get as close to this harmonious balance as possible.

The Olympic Committee is evidently yet to find this balance with certain partners but when weighing up the pros and cons, sponsors cannot be viewed as the bad guys. After all, despite recently sympathising with protesters, Jacques Rogge hits the nail on the head when stating that “Quite simply, staging the Olympic Games would not be possible without our partners.”

How the Czech House Got It Right – Olympic Hospitality Houses 27th July, 2012

We are incredibly fortunate to have an office located in the Business Design Centre in London – and as of noon today, to be a part of the Czech Olympic Hospitality House.

Featuring the athletes, projections, DJs, and an artist installation along upper street featuring a full size London bus performing push ups – the Czech House is already making waves amongst Olympic goers and Islington dwellers.

The Czech Republic is one of a number of countries who have opened their doors to the British public allowing free entry into their activities during the Olympics.  Other countries who are also hosting free hospitality houses include Germany, Jamaica, Switzerland, Brazil, France, and Africa.  And although some of the other countries are featuring full scale restaurants, the Czech Republic have truly taken into consideration their location, audience, and strengths both as a country as well as a sports competitor.

Location & Audience

The Business Design Centre is a truly unique building and home to over hundreds of offices that span all industries.  As one such office calling the BDC home, I know the entire Slingshot Team cannot wait to get involved.  The hospitality house provides thousands of employees working in and around the BDC the opportunity to discover the Czech culture over a period of weeks whilst supporting their favourite sporting competitions – rather than the one stop evening that many of the other houses with featured restaurants/nightclubs are providing.

As an alternative, the Czech House is accessible to everyone at any time.  Not only is it free for anyone to enter, the activities throughout the day and evening are so varied there is an interest for everyone.  Whether that includes watching sport on the big screen, indie bands in the evening – or if you are like our colleague Emma, you could even participate in the 3 on 3 basketball competition during the day.

The Strength of the 3 on 3

The Czech Republic are very strong in basketball and this is reflected as soon as you walk into the Czech House with a full size 3 on 3 basketball court to play on.  This of course is a great element of interaction for people visiting the house, but also supports their own activities and hopefully will get more people cheering and watching when they hopefully play the finals.

The Czech House official opens today at noon – make sure to follow me on Twitter @JackieFast as I’ll be tweeting and sending over pictures!