M&S, 02 and other brands mentor British teams for 2012 Olympics

LONDON - Beyond the top-tier sponsorships, brands have a key role to play in developing British Olympic talent.

If Britain achieves its ambition of finishing fourth in the London 2012 Olympics medals table, the result will be welcomed with plenty of back-slapping in marketing departments across the country - with good reason.

Since the British Olympic Association (BOA) launched its FTSE-BOA Initiative, which partners British companies with national governing bodies (NGB) of Olympic sports, 18 FTSE 100 businesses have stepped forward to lend their support.

Multimillion-pound London 2012 top tier sponsorships, such as those agreed by Lloyds TSB, Adidas and British Airways, are crucial to a successful hosting of the Olympics. But the BOA hopes the role blue-chip brands play in mentoring NGBs will help generate medals and underpin future success.

Among the brands to have committed themselves to partnerships are Marks & Spencer, British Gas, Glaxo-SmithKline, Sainsbury's, O2, Alliance & Leicester and SABMiller. Most recently, John Lewis agreed to provide IT support for the British Equestrian Federation (BEF). Overall, organisations representing 33 winter and summer Olympic sports are involved in the initiative, with only football and tennis excluding themselves, due to their scale and existing wealth of commercial experience.

The services provided by the brands vary. Sainsbury's, which recently ran a TV ad in which Jamie Oliver plays table tennis, has teamed up with the English Table Tennis Association in a bid to get more people playing the sport and improve British medal prospects in London. M&S will provide nutritional advice, professional support, business planning, IT and branding advice to the Modern Pentathlon Association of Great Britain, while GSK has pledged to help the Amateur Boxing Association identify commercial opportunities.

The motivation of a brand to align itself with Olympic sports is altruistic to a large extent. No money changes hands and NGBs have no association rights to grant in relation to the Olympic Games and are unable to grant rights with respect to the British Olympic team, Team GB. However, as Tom Silk, managing director of Velocity Sport & Entertainment, points out, while the benefits of external communications may be limited, for brands keen on motivating their workforce, NGBs can be useful for fostering employee engagement.

'Some of the main benefits are less tangible', explains Bev Salt, FTSE-BOA Initiative programme director. 'Brands can refer to the partnership in their CSR report, but there is benefit for individuals within an organisation. There are

opportunities for athletes to go into companies, for example. At AstraZeneca (where Salt works four days a week) we had Olympian James Cracknell come in to talk to staff, help at a sports camp and give a motivational speech, and the partnership between British Swimming and Alliance & Leicester will see staff volunteer at the World Swimming Championships in Manchester in April.'

Nonetheless, brands will inevitably benefit from positive PR. John Lewis has said that one of the attractions of mentoring the British Equestrian Federation was its 'medal-winning success'.

'Brands don't have any rights of association,' says Pippa Collett, managing director of Sponsorship Consulting. 'It's a skills transfer that is extremely valuable to the governing bodies. In some cases, the mentoring can strengthen an existing relationship between a sponsor and the governing body, such as in the case of Corus and triathlon and Accenture and sailing. I'm sure that Siemens would be very upset if the Amateur Rowing Association agreed a mentoring deal with another brand.'

As Corus executive director Scott McDonald says of his company's partnership with British Triathlon: 'It is a natural extension of our existing sponsorship programme and will bring benefits to both organisations.'

Salt agrees that the initiative could strengthen relationships between an official sponsor and the governing body with which it works. 'The partnership will help [the brand] to better understand the sport they are sponsoring and make a bigger contribution.' She notes that a partnership with an NGB could act as a precursor for a brand that has no history of consumer brand sponsorship. 'A small number may well subsequently develop sponsorships,' she adds.

London's Olympic Games present a unique opportunity for NGBs of, primarily, minority-interest sports to work with, and garner commercial expertise from, brands that might not, under normal circumstances, consider such a relationship. Should all go well, the ties

established between brands and governing bodies during the years building up to London's hosting of the world's greatest sporting event will continue to blossom long after the Games have passed.      L

Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 FTSE-BOA partnerships

  • Accenture - Royal Yachting Association
  • Alliance & Leicester - British Swimming
  • British Airways - Snowsport GB
  • British Gas - England Hockey
  • Corus - British Triathlon
  • Experian - National Ice Skating Association
  • GlaxoSmithKline - Amateur Boxing Association
  • Group 4 Securicor - The British Judo Association
  • John Lewis - British Equestrian Federation
  • Home Retail Group - Badminton England
  • Land Securities - British Volleyball
  • Marks & Spencer - Modern Pentathlon Association of Great Britain
  • O2 - British Taekwondo Control Board
  • Sainsbury's - British Table Tennis Federation
  • Skandia UK - British Biathlon Union
  • SABMiller - British Fencing
  • Standard Life Investments - The Grand National Archery Society
  • Wolseley - British Gymnastics

Sports yet to secure FTSE-BOA initiative partners

  • Athletics      
  • Ice Hockey
  • Basketball 
  • Rowing
  • Bobsleigh/Luge 
  • Shooting
  • Canoeing 
  • Skiing
  • Curling          
  • Weightlifting
  • Cycling
  • Wrestling
  • Handball   

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

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
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad