Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Comments on Olympics and IMC

Essay for Sports/Business publication

Some enjoy sports marketing in two flavors. In 2008 the “sport” of Presidential elections was in full swing and worth watching for lessons in marketing and communications for my students at Northwestern University. . The other 2008 major and equally expensive sporting event worth watching and learning from is or are the 2008 World Olympics.

Over many centuries, the ancient and even the modern Olympics have demonstrated the dedication of individuals, governments, organizations, corporations and nations to the serious and valued marketing of the Games. As in political campaigns you will notice that the use of every possible tactic in marketing was employed with most incorporating an integrated strategy to fully gain audience, stakeholder and customer allegiance. The Olympics are a great show of fully developed product, corporate and national branding.

Some of the lessons of Olympic marketing (especially for those of you who cannot afford to be an official sponsor) that I have shared with my students and audiences include low cost but high dedication strategies and tactics (hopefully you can use the ideas for the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2016 Olympics we expect to be in Chicago).

1. Prepare your “Unofficial Olympic Strategy” to work exactly with your existing marketing and corporate strategies. Link the timing, energy and messaging to the Olympic cycle.
2. Do not use ambush marketing or other unethical and illegal uses of the Olympic rings and values, but instead simply link your own sprit of business dedication and to the Olympic spirit and history.
3. Consider your loyal current customers, employees and other stakeholders with opportunities to reach out to new customers.
4. Celebrate the Olympics in your business location, make a contribution to the American effort, donate product to Olympic training or even sporting events for the very young aspirants in your parks and school. Connect to local or regional Olympic contenders and finalists in your market. Consider hosting events to celebrate the Olympics at your business. Offer tickets to the Olympics or offer Olympic linked prizes.
5. In other words, link your business to the values, spirit and activities of the Olympics in a way that celebrates your support for the athletes, the audiences and the concept of the Olympics.

Despite my affinity to the Olympics and to people of China, I did not realize that I would find myself carrying the Olympic Torch in Lijiang China to “live the dream.” As a guest of Olympic and Torch sponsors Samsung Electronics, I was generously invited to the far western province of China and the city of Lijiang to join with over 33,000 global citizens running in hundreds of cities this year to carry the Olympic Torch. When I returned to Chicago and wanted to extend my experience in carrying the Torch, I literally passed that Torch to my students and my business audiences. In June I brought home the Torch to Northwestern (don’t worry; it is the flame that we pass along). The metaphor of the Torch has been one of the longest existing brand representations in civilization.

And with the Torch and symbol of the flame, I brought to my family, students, colleagues and audiences another example of the brilliance of the human mind to create and perpetuate brand symbols of ideas, people and products that can even last centuries.

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