Tag Archives: London 2012

Volunteering at the Olympics has a silver lining

2 Aug

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I walked into the ExCeL this afternoon thinking it would be the same as any other shift – keep the journalists happy and catch some world-class judo action. And it was, more or less, until Team GB judoka Gemma Gibbons scooped silver in the under 78kg judo tournament – our first Olympic medal in the sport for more than a decade. Every step of the way the 10,000 strong crowd were cheering her on, including the Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prince Edward was also rumoured to have dropped by to show his support.

I was lucky enough to help out in the press conference after the medal ceremonies for the men’s 100kg contest had taken place with a poignant Russian victory, just for the President. As journalists from all around the world clambered into the conference room, we ensured medallists’ names were in the right place and had our microphones ready to hand out to capture all the questions.

Athletes sat on the stage against a London 2012 backdrop. Top tier sponsor Coca Cola also dominated the table with bottles of its classic drink and Powerade taking pride of place.

The main question during the men’s conference was ‘when is the women’s?’ With one athlete by-passing the conference and another taken to the medical zone for urgent attention, the top table was lacking. But, it wasn’t long before: American Kayla Harrison (gold), Brit Gemma Gibbons (silver), French Audrey Tcheumeo and Brazilian Mayra Aguiar (both bronze) took their places.

Journalists from Press Association, Evening Standard and the Daily Mail all fired questions at Gemma which emphasised London 2012’s message: the desire to inspire the next generation and raise the profile of judo.

It was a fantastic experience to be part of this event – a conference honouring the most successful Team GB judoka this week. Bring on tomorrow.

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The Olympic Torch comes to Croydon

23 Jul

I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Olympic Torch this afternoon on day 66 of its momentous journey as it came through London Road in Croydon. Almost one year after the riots, it was a fantastic sight to see so many people gathered to celebrate part of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics.

I saw Beth McKillop, deputy director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, carry the Torch through the street as she was cheered up the high street. Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard from the Star Trek movies) continued the Croydon trail later in the afternoon and described the experience as better than any move premiere he has ever attended.

Before I saw the Torch in all its glory, I was clearly reminded of the controversial reason why the Games can be dubbed ‘one of the greatest shows on earth’ as it was preceded by sponsor buses: Coca-Cola, Samsung and Lloyds TSB. They created a fan-fare of excitement for people as promotional people ran down the road waving flags, shouting encouragement and blasting music from the buses.

But, one sponsor in particular must be questioning if this is all worth it. The Grocer revealed at the end of last week that £50m top tier sponsor Cola-Cola posted a drop in sales month-on-month for the last quarter against rival Pepsi (who took the lead of Euro 2012). Boss Hubert Patricot has quickly responded to say that, of course, the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are long-term investments for the brand which will continue to leverage the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to better engage with their customers. Time will tell.

Here’s a brief look at the sponsor buses:

Track the Torch’s remaining journey here.

Serena lets the alligator out of the bag

9 Jul

Five-times Wimbledon Champion Serena Williams has instilled fear into LOCOG and its sponsors by doing the one thing at Wimbledon that it can’t control at the forthcoming Olympics Games – bringing non sponsored brands into the stadiums.

Serena ignored the All England Lawn Tennis Club rules throughout the two-week tournament – that clearly stated that players are forbidden from showing non-sponsor drink brands within the ground during the competition – by bringing a Gatorade bottle to her post-match press conference on Saturday night. Fortunately, TV producers were able to edit it out of the picture and the pesky drink wasn’t given any airtime. But, is this her problem? Not really. Does she care? Unlikely. If anything, she’s given the brand more attention by breaking the rules.

To you and I this not something to make a fuss about. And frankly, no one would have noticed if the press hadn’t started shouting about it. Yet, event organisers continue to offer sports sponsors exclusive brand presence which cannot be guaranteed.

Some brands that don’t enter into official event sponsorship packages have tried to get their exposure by going through the stadiums’ back doors and taking ownership of the athletes themselves. Sports personalities like Serena Williams (Gatorade), David Beckham (Adidas) and Jessica Ennis (Powerade) all have brands fighting over them, and with so many rules and regulations it’s becoming difficult for their teams to work out what props are suitable and when.

London 2012 organisers will need to do everything they can to keep sponsors happy. Especially after recent research by Marketing magazine shows that re-call rates for companies assoiciated with the Olympic Games are disappointingly low – some consumers even assume that non sponsors Nike, Virgin and energy suppier E.On are all involved. Of the people asked, it was worldwide Olympic partners Coca-Cola and McDonald’s that came out on top, with Lloyds, Visa and EDF completing the top five. However, the top two have been criticised in the press recently, detracting from their association success.

A few weeks ago I blogged that Olympic sponsorship guarantees brands talkability inside and outside the stadium, regardless of exclusivity or not. It shouldn’t matter if some slip through the net. It’s not the branding people will be watching the Games for, it’s the sport (naturally). Even with the organisers playing by the book, the players (like Serena) may disregard the rules because it’s not on their mind or their trainers – and nor should it be.

With 48 medals on team GB’s target list, they’ll need to focus on their performance, not petty branding regulations.

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