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How to make sponsorship effective in the lead up to the Olympics

How to make sponsorship effective in the lead up to the Olympics

By Tove Okunniwa, managing partner, MEC Access

It would have taken considerable effort over the last six months to escape the increasing hubbub around next year’s London Olympic Games. We are now officially counting the last year down and it seems anyone and everyone is keen to take a bite from the pie that is brand ‘Olympic’.

But with so many big name brands and companies jumping on the Olympic bandwagon, and so many high cost official sponsorship contracts in place, how can smaller and less well-known names capitalise on the so-called ‘Greatest Show on Earth’?

For those still debating on whether to get involved, I have outlined my top tips for establishing which opportunities are still available with under a year to go.

1.    Consider the message your company sends out. London 2012 is a massive opportunity for the right brands. LOCOG has made it clear that it wants to work with brands in areas such as the environment and health, using the Olympics to promote sustainable development and health awareness. If your company/brand does not have any tangible link to these issues, consider whether the association is going to bring any true value or benefit to your business.

2.    Get moving! Those brands with the highest awareness around the Olympics began working with the brand as soon as London was announced as the home of the 2012 Games. Whilst this doesn’t mean that time has run out for you to get involved, it does mean that you need to act swiftly to be in with a chance of having a truly beneficial association with the event.

3.    Consider wider Olympic themes. Just because you don’t have the same advertising budget as some of the bigger brands, you can still make the Olympics work for you. Smaller brands, with or without official rights, can leverage the key themes of the Games, such as patriotism, goodwill and community, without having to spend large amounts of money. There are likely to be specific opportunities linked to these themes in the run up to next summer, such as street parties and local community activities, which will provide great opportunities to get on board.

4.    Look at alternative related themes, such as the arts and legacy. They will be crying out for brand support – especially in the context of austerity budget cuts and funds that are perceived to having been diverted into sports.

5.    Think internally. Smaller brands can use the Olympics to boost their brand internally, as well as externally. By creating employee programmes in and around the Olympic Games there is the chance to reinforce staff as brand ambassadors.

6.    Be single-minded. This is particularly important for smaller brands as they work out what they are trying to do with an Olympic association. They should seek to add value to the themes of public sentiment, such as those outlined above. Being realistic about the legal constraints and the clutter of the Games will also help to ensure effective planning and delivery of any campaign.

7.    Charity opportunities. There are a number of opportunities for charities to get involved, both formally and informally. To promote a direct association with London 2012, a charity must be registered under the London 2012 “Inspire” programme. This provides the right to use the Inspire logo and promote the association in recognition of the good work they do and alignment of the brand. This is particularly beneficial for boosting a charity’s brand through providing adding credibility, borrowing the brand personality values of London 2012 and extending the reach of the charity.

8.    Work with existing Olympics’ sponsors. Charities might also be able to associate informally with the Olympics through working with a sponsor that has a specific activation focus within the remit of the charity. Additionally, they could associate with other events happening in 2012, such as Sport Relief, which will naturally have a halo effect from London 2012

9.    Keep it legal. While there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved in the Olympics, it is worth keeping in mind that the LOCOG Brand Protection team are very alert to any unauthorised usage of the London 2012 brand, and will be quick to clamp down on it.

10.    Have fun! The Olympic Games must be celebrated and enjoyed, likely a once in a lifetime experience on home soil. If all else fails, at least switch the TV in reception on during the day and capture the atmosphere.

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