By David Nobs
This article first appeared on O’Dwyer’s Public Relations News. David Nobs is the head of sports marketing at The Lavidge Company and serves on the Board of Directors for the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission. He’s managed a number of Olympic sponsorship campaigns for Coca-Cola, Reebok and Bank of America, among others.
“With the Olympics Games in London in full swing, the marketing world is watching to see what direction and steps sponsors are taking to activate their involvement with the ‘rings’ as they vie for corporate gold, silver and bronze.
When it comes to sports marketing, many still consider the Olympics to be the premier event. Most sponsors are hoping to reap the benefits of associating their brand and products with the ideals of excellence that the Olympics have come to represent. More to the point, these sponsors are hoping to turn their sponsorships quite literally into gold through supporting advertising, marketing, digital and public relations campaigns.
As sponsorships and associated spending come under greater scrutiny, corporations are looking for more growth and value from the Olympics than ever before. The keys to success lie in bringing sponsorships to life in real and meaningful ways. A vital element of the sponsorship equation is determining what success looks like at the outset of the campaign.
One of the biggest reasons sponsorships fail is that key internal and external constituencies have a different view of what success looks like before committing the money and resources needed to support an investment of this magnitude.
Integrated marketing is essential in achieving success and gaining a return on the millions of dollars being spent. More often than not, advertising drives the story but it’s the public relations and digital campaigns that keep it top of mind.
Of course, one of the biggest challenges facing these sponsors is trying to cut through the clutter to get attention for their brand and products in a very crowded marketplace. The sponsorship alone only provides a platform on which to build. The return on that sponsorship investment is largely dependent on how companies activate and integrate the marketing and communications activities necessary for success.
Companies first need to understand the dynamic of sports sponsorship and that the decision to get involved in something like the Olympics cannot be done in a vacuum.
Each sponsorship program needs to be developed to achieve specific, measureable results and evaluated using several criteria such as the financial value gained from the sale of products and services derived from the Olympics; brand image value gained by associating with the ‘rings’; pre-emptive value of keeping the competition out; and the intangible value in using the Olympics as a rallying point for both internal and external audiences.
Finding a niche and then developing innovative ways and creative applications to leverage your sponsorship is the best way to break through the clutter. P&G is doing this by honoring the mothers behind the athletes. Visa is focusing on a ‘social-by-design’ strategy urging consumers to upload text, photo and video ‘cheers’ for Olympic athletes. Omega is turning to music and the Rolling Stones to reinforce its official timekeeper role. And, Coca-Cola is doing it again through its original “Beat TV” entertainment series and Olympic Torch Relay sponsorship.
The overall challenge facing the Olympics and its ability to charge millions and millions of dollars for sponsorship is staying relevant to a younger demographic that has a myriad of sports and entertainment options at their fingertips.
That said, the Olympics still provide a terrific platform for companies to market their products and communicate their services and points of differentiation on a global, national and local basis. If done right, the Olympics provide a great opportunity to roll everything – advertising, media exposure, sales & marketing, hospitality, and employee engagement – into one complete package.”