The reasons why Seb Coe didn't thank London 2012's sponsors

'Oh come on!,' I yelled at the telly, but not to cheer on any of the Olympic athletes. I was shouting, instead, at London 2012 chairman Lord Coe.

This was during Sunday’s closing ceremony and Coe was delivering a moving thank-you to everyone involved in making the Games so memorable.

Well, almost everyone. Stark in their omission from Coe’s speech were the sponsors who contributed, not just a chunk of the running costs, but vital services as well.

It isn't inconceiveable that he would reference them, especially as at Cannes in June and in conversations with Marketing in the run-up to the Games, Coe was always sincere in his appreciation of the benefits that brands bring to the Games. His frustration, rather, was around their reluctance to do the necessary self-promotion of those benefits.

So it’s worth speculating on the reasons why those brands that helped build London 2012 were sidestepped in Coe’s thank-you speech.

1. It was Coe's time to be feted and mentioning the sponsors would risk spoiling the moment. LOCOG’s draconian enforcement of IOC rules protecting brands, appreciated by sponsors, led to some of Coe's more uncomfortable moments as LOCOG chair, when called to defend that brand protection. Small wonder he chose not revisit this territory in his valedictory speech. 

Coe was on happier ground where sponsors have solid sporting pedigrees. Before the Games he referenced brands such as Lloyds and Coca-Cola for their support of grass roots sport.

2. Modern Olympics - an intersection between sport and commerce - cost an absurd amount of money to stage, and the presence of sponsor cash is vital. But to be truly useful in Coe’s eyes, sponsors needed to enhance the experiences of visitors and athletes, and though Coe has not said as much, not all sponsors – Visa, notably - have done so.

Brands that did benefit visitors or athletes stood out, such as Holiday Inn and its stewardship of the Olympic village, which ensured tired athletes returned to clean apartments with their laundry done.

Would Coe, given free rein, rather have staged an Austerity Games, just as London did in 1948: staged at minimal cost, at a fraction of London 2012’s scale?

I doubt it. Other considerations aside, the heavy investment in London 2012 is intended to create an equally impressive legacy.  And that is where Coe is headed next.  Will he still be hobnobbing with brands in his new role? Certainly. 

Meanwhile the Paralympics promise to be a profoundly different marketing experience to London 2012. For instance Sainsbury’s, the Paralympic Games-only sponsor, is rethinking the corporate hospitality model, avoiding VIPs and instead treating 18,000 its customers and staff.

But even allowing for the sensitivities around sponsors in the London 2012 Olympics, I’m convinced brands were included in Coe’s assessment of London 2012: ‘we did it right’.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message