Magazine article Marketing

The Road to Rio

Magazine article Marketing

The Road to Rio

Article excerpt

With the London 2012 Olympics enshrined in marketing history, the Team GB brand must meet ever-increasing consumer expectations, writes Nicola Kemp.

The London 2012 Olympic Games may now be a distant memory, but it is testament to the event's phenomenal impact on the British sporting psyche that, ahead of the forthcoming Rugby World Cup hitting the UK in September, sponsors still want to build on its unique spirit.

For Team GB, London 2012 represented an incredible story of sporting success: 65 medals won, compared with the 15 medals picked up in Atlanta in 1996. The courage, endurance and emotional and physical commitment of the country's athletes also delivered the kind of storytelling that most marketers can only dream of.

The London Olympics also left a significant marketing legacy; not least the benefits of taking a side, demonstrated by the success of Adidas' 'Take the stage' campaign. From a brand perspective, London 2012 was nothing short of genre-defining, but is the road to Rio paved with marketing gold?

Second-album syndrome

From a marketing perspective, in many ways, Rio 2016 - the '500 days to go' milestone was passed in March - represents Team GB's equivalent to 'that difficult second album'. While any marketer would be tempted to bask in London 2012's glory, translating its home advantage abroad is a big challenge.

Simon Massie-Taylor, commercial director at the British Olympic Association, is unfazed by this and ready to build on London 2012's legacy.

'London 2012 did inspire a generation, it had a huge impact and the legacy element in terms of rising participation is clear to see,' he says.

According to Team GB, nearly 25,000 schools and 5.8m pupils are actively involved in Get Set, the organisation's youth-engagement programme.

Despite the tremendous success of London 2012, Team GB shows no signs of believing it is now entitled to greater commercial backing. Instead of resting on its laurels it has dedicated its time to a significant research project, carried out by Krow, to evaluate and evolve its brand The results of the research informed the creation of a new strapline, 'Believe in extraordinary'.

The evolution of storytelling: stories worth telling

At the heart of Team GB's refreshed marketing strategy is content. While most marketing professionals like nothing more than to wax lyrical about the power of storytelling, Team GB couldn't wish for a better subject than the athletes' backstories.

'When we researched what our fans and stakeholders want from us, the stories behind our athletes were key - it is our USP,' says Leah Davies, head of marketing at Team GB. Indeed, the research showed consumers were twice as likely to be interested in the stories behind the athletes than in those of other sporting teams, such as rugby union's British and Irish Lions, or the football club they support.

The brand has also significantly grown its digital footprint, giving it a greater platform from which to tell these stories.

Despite the relatively small size of the country, Team GB is the number-one Olympic team on Twitter globally, by number of followers, and the fourth-biggest national team on Facebook in the UK (based on its number of fans). It experienced a 2000% increase in its social following during London 2012.

Team GB hopes that partner brands will help tell these stories through marketing partnerships and investment. …

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