Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Give your marketing a sporting chance

With the summer now fully in motion, sport is truly on everyone’s minds and if it’s not, you will be forced in some way to back “Our Greatest Team” in the Olympics. From television to chocolate, clothing to fast food, the Olympics have created a massive marketing bubble and you just try and escape it!

That is the influence of marketing, like it or lump it its everywhere! I think I am more aware of it this year than any other. It probably started way before I realised, but the first time it really hit home was in the build up to the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

A right Royal re-brand

First up was a rebrand with a bit of a twist, when Unilever changed its classic yellow lid and label on its iconic Marmite pots, replacing it with a red top and a union jack logo. This rebranding machine went a step further with a name change to Ma’amite, in quirky homage to the Queen. 

Hot on their heels with their very own ‘royal rebrand’ was bread maker Kingsmill, whom aptly re-branded their bread Queensmill. This promotion, however only ran for two weeks, as they probably took the view that any longer would risk confusion, and dilution of the brand.

Love it or hate it (see what I did there) these are great examples of the creativity, interest and anticipation that, amongst other things marketing can create.

Since the Jubilee, marketing teams across the world having using sport as a key leverage for their product or service. With Euro 2012 warming things up we saw the typical Nike Vs. Adidas campaigns, added to this clothing retailer H&M got a piece of the action by using David Beckham to flog some underpants.

Marketing Aces

From one sporting tournament to another, the 2012 Wimbledon Championship was packed to the rafters with British expectation and interest. It’s no revelation that marketing plays a major part of Wimbledon, however what was most impressive this year was with the likes of HSBC, Robinsons and Evian and their integration of social, digital, print (packaging) and television mediums in well-constructed and engaging marketing campaigns. 

From ball suppliers, to being the official ice-cream or wine of a tournament, you can’t help but realise that sport is big business. In some quarters they say it has gone too far, and it’s more about making money out of the sport rather than supporting or promoting it. Just look at the brilliance of Bradley Wiggins at the weekend, who’s winners jersey was plastered with so much sponsorship it could have been mistaken for another colour rather than yellow (maybe ‘Sky’ blue?).

Overstepping the mark

Recently there is an opinion that marketing has over stepped the mark, using a more aggressive ways to engage with consumers. Rightly or wrongly the 2012 Olympics Games has come in for similar criticism, with Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan asking what message does sponsorship deals with the likes of McDonalds send across

When attending the Chester leg of the Olympic Torch Relay, I couldn’t help but be hit by the sheer marketing force sponsors Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. Shouting over speakers and handing out flags, did give it a great carnival atmosphere, but was it too much?

Bold or Brilliant 

That said there have been some marketing campaigns associated with the 2012 Olympics, which I have to admit have really hit the mark.  One of the most interesting and possibly most bizarre campaigns is British Airways ‘Home Advantage’ - which actively tells us “Don’t Fly”. Tongue and cheek or not, it is certainly a brave marketing decision.

This campaign centred around a great television advert of a BA plane driving around the streets of London, whilst also being supported by a heavy online and social media presence.

See a plane go down your street?

The BA 'Home Advantage' campaign website allows you to enter your postcode to see the plane taxi down your street, how cool is that? 


What can we learn?

With over 100 years of Olympic Games marketing, I am sure that we can all learn a lot from their marketing strategies and well executed campaigns. No, not jumping on the latest band waggon but:

  • Being not afraid to be daring sometimes
  • Integration of your campaigns
  • Being creative at all touch points
  • Not underestimating the power of social media

Now there go, there are no excuses now. We can all achieve gold in our marketing.

Too cheesy? I think that is enough.



  1. I think the Olympic body should do more marketing and promotion work involving charitable based organisations.

    Rather than focus efforts on profit maybe they could / should help the less fortunate get into more sporting activates rather than suggesting they eat at McDonalds.

  2. I think that the Olympic body has come in for a bit of stick.

    I do agree that there can always be more done, and the focus should always remain on the ideology of the Olympics - fairness and inclusiveness.

    But if it wasn't for business investment and marketing, how would the spectacle be staged?

  3. I have been looking through the MRA blogs over the last couple of week and I think they are all very informative, topical (this one in particular) and very well written, well done to you all, keep up the good work.


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