Design openings as London 2012 partners need push

The marketing departments of the London Olympics’ biggest corporate sponsors could be in the firing line following the publication of research by Ledbury Group last week.

Ahead of the Olympic handover to London in August, Ledbury commissioned a survey of 1000 ‘opinion- formers’, and found that more than 40 per cent were unable to identify a single sponsor of London 2012.

This is bad news for the six companies that have jointly invested £300m in the games. But it could present further opportunities for design consultancies as the Olympic sponsors start ramping up their marketing efforts, according to an analysis of new opportunities published by business intelligence service Pearlfinders last month.

The main Olympic sponsors are EDF Energy, Adidas, British Airways, BT, Lloyds TSB and newest recruit BP.

Pearlfinders’ report suggests that EDF Energy is likely to be looking for a leg-up for its sustainability-based Carbon Challenge campaign, created by Euro RSCG London and integrated marketing agency Archibald Ingall Stretton.

‘In our report, EDF Energy was talking about “maintaining the buzz” in the build-up to 2012, but I imagine that in the wake of Ledbury’s survey, it will be more concerned with initiating the buzz,’ says Pearlfinders director Anthony Cooper.

EDF head of brand advertising Rob Merrington tells Pearlfinders that while the digital channel is ‘key’, its competitors’ digital platforms are better.

He confirms that the energy giant is looking for viral marketing specialists. However, opportunities for designers working with the sponsors will revolve largely around corporate communications and merchandising, according to Pearlfinders’ report.

‘BP will be looking for both of these elements, as it is the newest sponsor,’ says Cooper. The oil company signed a £50m sponsorship deal two weeks ago.

‘The challenge for product designers is to differentiate themselves, and come up with a piece of merchandising that is branded both BP and the Olympics. Neck holders with inbuilt radios is one idea that I have heard about,’ says Cooper.

The London Olympics biggest sponsor is Adidas, which has signed a £100m deal with London 2012.

Pearlfinders’ report observes that unlike the other sponsors, it cannot just make existing marketing activity ‘more sporty’, and as such expects ‘innovative live, experiential and new media work in the next four years’.

For their individual sponsorship campaigns, Pearlfinders indicates that BA is focusing on direct marketing, while BT is hoping to boost its cool quotient and rebuild ‘consumer engagement’, with the help its rostered consultancies.

Olympics stalwart Lloyds TSB, the first to sign up in May last year and the first to use the controversial Wolff Olins Olympics logo, reminds consultancies to bear in mind that there are strict guidelines about the use of the logo, which is, of course, only available to sponsors to use on their materials.

‘The challenge for designers is in finding ways of supporting the marketing specialists that are already – or potentially could be – engaged by the Olympic sponsors. Design is involved in every part of these campaigns,’ says Cooper.

Yet the six Olympic sponsors represent a tiny proportion of the companies that will be using sport in their marketing strategies over the next four years.

McCain, which announced a £5m sponsorship deal with UK Athletics last week, is one of the first FMCG brands to jump on the London Olympics bandwagon, and more are sure to follow.

‘Our advice to designers is to start approaching clients with sport in mind,’ concludes Cooper.




Olympic sponsors’ design and branding consultancies


British Airways – Interbrand

BP – TBWAManchester

Adidas – Name

EDF Energy – Templar Downie, which is now part of Loewy – see www.designweek.co.uk, 15 July

Lloyds TSB – Allen International

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