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Quidditch, the Olympics and building a brand

by Mark Sales | Aug 18, 2016

Like many of the people who read my ramblings I spend an inordinate amount of my life travelling for business, which I have discovered is split roughly equally three ways – sat in a metal tube at 30,000 feet, asleep or at dinner, and in meetings (sometimes even in a room with a view to let me know where I am). 

The last month or so has taken me to Beijing, Shanghai, New York, Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt. Apart from helping our businesses be the best we can and helping our clients build stronger brands and become more customer-centric, there has been one theme…Rio 2016

The Olympics signifies so much to so many people, but for me it’s about hope and aspiration. I sat up late last night and watched Laura Trott become Britain’s greatest ever female Olympian and her fiancé Jason Kenny become Britain’s greatest ever Olympian period. Social media is wonderful around events like this – my two favourite tweets were JK Rowling’s comparison of the rules of Quidditch to the Omnium points race.

Then possibly the most British tweet I have ever seen, referring to six-time gold medallist Jason Kenny caught on camera putting his expensive aerodynamic cycling gear into a recyclable plastic bag before the medal ceremony!

From a branding perspective I find the Olympics fascinating: No overt sponsorship within the actual games apart from kit manufacturers’ logos discreetly placed on vests, skin suits, sweaters, etc., yet London 2012 reached 76% of people on the planet with access to a TV and its adverts (in the UK it’s owned by the BBC, which is state-funded and therefore no advertising, put phenomenal multichannel coverage). The brand that benefits (or loses) the most seems to me to be the country in which it was hosted.

Let’s think about brand equity for a minute, that thing that costs global brands millions (in some cases billions) of dollars and years to build, and insulates brands from being completely wiped out during a scandal. In 2012 London executed one of the greatest brand equity investments seen on this planet, from that wonderful opening ceremony which reminded the world of our history to the gamesmaker volunteers around the city, to the Olympic legacy. The stadium is now a soccer stadium for West Ham Utd, the Olympic park is now a beautiful open park, and a complete regeneration has occurred in that part of the city.

Brazil’s economy has seen one of the fastest reversals of fortune in the emerging world, shrinking for the fifth quarter in a row (http://bbc.in/2bi7RFM). I really hope the Olympic brand can drive a little equity and a legacy and not end up like some of the stadiums in Athens (http://bit.ly/2aesYKk).

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