Team GB’s incredible performance at the Olympics has impressed the public. Our top politicians should know, and they’ve been queuing up to sing the praises of the athletes. Theresa May thinks this is an occasion for an extra long honours list – and I don’t disagree! Even the EU got in on the good cheer, claiming that it had won the Olympics. Its 28 member states won 325 medals. However, the social media backlash was less upbeat, which goes to show the balancing act of Olympic-themed communications. What’s the best way to talk to a public which is buoyed by Olympic success?
Does Britain’s feel good factor affect the economy? We already know these sorts of things matter. A 1°c difference in average annual temperature has an average £3 billion impact on the retail economy, with shoppers preferring sunny, warmer weather. Also, market analysts readily predict a less productive day after a national football team exits a competition. The Rio Olympics constitutes the biggest sporting triumph we’ve had in recent years and you can’t ignore what these big events do to the mood and economy of a nation.
This provides a clear opportunity for communications. When we’re feeling good, we spend our money on feel good, “happy” items more liberally. The door is opened for adventurous and fun-loving campaigns. For instance, the jewellery industry does better in nice weather. Sure, there’s an element of practicality about that – sunny weather will get more people out onto the high street. But people are more likely to say “Why not?” than if they were shopping on the internet at home with miserable weather outside.
That said, people don’t like obvious cashing-in on the games. Historically, fast food chains sponsoring sporting events has attracted criticism and I agree with the sceptics, it doesn’t fit with the brand. However, with the IOC’s contentious “Rule 40”, this is difficult to do. The Olympics defend their intellectual property fiercely. Things like the Olympic rings and the phrase “Rio 2016” are obviously trademarked, but so is the world “Gold” in the wrong context. If you want permission to use these trademarks, you have to fork out $200 million for an official sponsorship.
This is no bad thing. Trademarking cornerstone Olympic concepts prevents ambush marketing and saves us from some lazy slogans. I don’t want to go for gold in burger eating.
With the possibility of aping the Olympics’ image off the table, businesses are simply left with the public’s positivity to use – and this is a good thing. It’s a great opportunity for fun and innovative campaigns to press their advantage and should bring out the best in UK communications talent. Even for traditional B2B companies, it’s the perfect time to try out that slightly more “out there” campaign idea they’ve been sitting on – prospects’ C-suites are as likely to be enthused by the Games as anyone else.
The bubble following the Olympics may be winding down, but companies should look out for future opportunities to align their marketing campaigns with times when the public will be receptive to their message.