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Lessons from the Olympics on brand building

The Olympics may be over for another four years; but the opportunity to learn from this epic brand experience is there for the taking, right now. Is your brand ready to step up to the podium?

Our newest article presents lessons from the Olympics on brand building best practices:

Myth #1 You can’t get staff to care as much as volunteers
Myth #2 Brands can’t evoke that kind of emotion
Myth #3 We’ll never touch that many people
Myth #4 An iconic setting is beyond our reach
Myth #5 Of course the budget has to be huge

Lessons from the Olympics on brand building

  1. 1. Olympic lessons for every brand
  2. 2. WHAT’S INSIDE3/ INTRODUCTION4/ MYTH #1 5/ MYTH #2 6/ MYTH #3 7/ MYTH #4 8/ MYTH #5 9/ FINAL WORD 10/ TALK TO JACK“You can’t get “Brands can’t “We’ll never “An iconic “Of course thestaff to care evoke that kind touch that setting is budget has toas much as of emotion“ many people“ beyond our be huge“volunteers” reach“
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION The Olympics are undoubtedly in a class of their own. Yet we believe there is much that brands can learn from the Olympics, and so many ways that brands can create engaging brand experiences‘Goodwill, positivity, advocacy – that leave their audience with thecall it what you will: same warm 2012, London generally and Some might say that brands can’tthe Olympics specifically have borrow the lessons of the Olympics.generated it in spades.’ That they shouldn’t aspire to create this groundswell of goodwill orThe atmosphere has been so inspiring that people have “think big” for their brands. (Theseliterally been bottling it and attempting to sell it on eBay. naysayers may be related to those pre-Games doubters).We thinkIt’s a stunning turnaround from the pre-Games scepticism of they’re wrong.whether we could actually pull this off (among the UK populaceat least; when I asked colleagues outside the UK about those We’ve identified five keydoubts, they were confused as to why I’d even ask). Now, myths (or myth conceptions)among even the most sceptical generation – 18-35 that may be keeping youryear-olds – over 90% agree that the Olympics was brand from the medalsa good thing for the nation. table. We hope by the end of this paper that we’ll have dispelled these myths and inspired you to Olympic greatness. 3/
  4. 4. MYTH #1 “You can’t get staff to care as much as volunteers”A staggering quarter of The common factor uniting volunteers Here’s the Olympics lesson: Give your employees an was a passion to be involved with experience they want to be part of, a sense of purpose,a million people applied a cause, a reason to believe in your brand. Remember, something significant, to be part of ato be Games Makers those 250,000 volunteers wanted so much to be part of the once-in-a-lifetime movement.(the name given to the experience they were willing to work countless hours for It’s this passion that you want in your employees. As the no pay. Of course even the most passionate employeesOlympic and Paralympic first point of contact people may have with your brand, expect to be paid – but research by Gumtree indicates thatvolunteers). getting them to feel as committed and involved as Olympic less than half of men and only a mere quarter or women are volunteers is not just desirable, it’s good business sense. primarily motivated by money when looking for a new job.So how do you attract Sadly, too much of how companies engage employees is So get ready to give your employees a reason to dictated by functional silos. But however separate Internalsuch passionate, engaged Communications may be from External Marketing in your believe. Don’t know what inspires your staff? Ask them. You might be surprised at whatpeople to be part of company’s eyes, however far apart your brand team may they tell you.your organisation? What be from the HR team, that’s not how people experience your employer brand. There’s just one Olympics cause; what’slessons can this teach your employer branding cause?us about recruitment? We need to think Brand to Everyone. People don’t define themselves in such narrow terms as job-hunter, employee, consumer. Successful brands create positive and differentiating experiences that make people want to engage with them on every level. Your staff need to feel every bit as inspired about your brand as the rest of the world. Why should they receive diluted or second-hand versions? Internal communication must be every bit as imaginative and engaging as external communication. It’s been shown that companies with highly engaged employees perform better financially. Research by Towers Watson has shown that companies with “exponential” levels of employee engagement deliver operating margin that is three times higher than those with low levels of engagement. In his book Grow, former P&G CMO Jim Stengel tracks the stock performance of companies with highly engaged 4/ employees and shows how they outperformed the S&P500.
  5. 5. MYTH #2 “Brands can’t evoke that kind of emotion“The Games inspired a But of course the Games heightened character in the performance you’re more likely to have a emotions, you may say: We were memorable experience. No more sitting in the back yawningmyriad of emotions: or texting. And of course you will be more likely to share the hosting the biggest sporting event adventure with your friends.Wonder when the cauldron in the world, welcoming millions of people from across the globe. Make them feel special:was lit, joy when the first Secret Cinema, another recent phenomenon, makes peoplegold medals were won, Can brands do that, too? Can they overcome the seen-it- feel a special kind of participation. Instead of watching the all sensation of yet another product launch, yet another action unfold onscreen, viewers are led to a mystery locationamusement at Usain Bolt’s conference or tradeshow? Another speech, another day of where they’re fully immersed in the film’s world – perhapsshowmanship, sadness observing and nodding politely? Another day of not being even selected to play a role. Deliberately vague, the Secretwhen it was all over. engaged? Yes, they can. Brands can connect emotionally if Cinema website invokes a strong sense of mystery; their “Tell they do three things the Games did: No One” tagline makes you feel part of something exclusive.The common thread: Appeal to basic humanity: Before the event you’re part of an experience, and you’ve become involved in a mystery to which you’re one of the fewthese moments resonated, Athletes’ connected when the public could identify with privvy. As with interactive theatre, cinema routine is turned them. Behind all the elite cycling, swimming and running,forged an emotional we glimpsed real people – and real stories about their on its head. Reactions are provoked. Emotional responsesconnection and got experiences, sacrifices and often, failures. This is what made are earned.people talking. us root for them. Similarly, P&G’s ongoing “Proud Sponsor of When brands take this counter-conventional Moms” campaign made people fall in love with athletes and approach, when they react to people by brands, whether they were mums or not, and in a way that displaying their own humanity and humour (not felt authentic and respectful. For example, P&G practised just a blank corporate statement), a similarly what they preached by providing a P&G Family Home for strong engagement can result. athletes and their relatives in the Olympic Village. Vistors were Keep them on the edge of their seats: able to create The pavilion with the biggest crowds in the Olympic Park their own was Coca-Cola’s Beatbox. Why? Easy: not only did it use beat for innovative technology to capture attention; it was pure London 2012 by remixing storytelling with the viewer as protagonist. the sounds Over the past few years interactive theatre has become of Olympic increasingly popular. Following in the footsteps of early sports. pioneers like You Me Bum Bum Train, theatre companies and comedians are pushing the boundaries further to truly 5/ engage with audiences. It goes without saying: as a vital
  6. 6. MYTH #3 “We’ll never touch that many people“ 150 million tweets posted about the Olympics 9.66 million mentions of the opening ceremony on Twitter on a single day 80,000 tweets per minute about Usain Bolt’s 200m gold win 1,045,469 likes on Team GB’s Facebook page 461 million visits on the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic website Impressive statistics, especially when to the Games. Users interacted with a “barometer” through you consider that LOCOG social media platforms, watching how the post affected its sound and appearance. As the social buzz around (the organising body behind the British Olympic athletes heightened, so did the symphonic 2012 Olympics) didn’t pay a penny composition and the over half million messages posted. for it. They earned this media by You don’t need the backdrop of global events creating a special experience, like the Games to have a successful digital which people wanted to share. campaign. Think of the viral Dollar Shave Club That’s what is so empowering about digital: it’s the perfect series which depicts the company CEO making medium for facilitating word of mouth – one of the most his pitch; he is unfailingly direct and honest powerful forms of marketing. Spreading the word about about the benefits of his service. Why does a new product, sharing a film with millions on YouTube, this work? Because it’s simple, it’s authentic, gaining massive consumer exposure with a campaign it’s funny and begs to be shared. The ad cost that goes viral, not to mention a new and deeper level of $4500 to make and the views on YouTube enagement – it’s all possible. currently stand at 6.5 million. Had the company taken a traditional advertising approach it’s But to earn this sharing of digital content, as with any unlikely they’d have received the same level of experience, you must offer something unique, something that engagement – but very likely they’d be bankrupt adds value. Turn mere information or brand messaging into from buying media. Instead, they earned media. a game; use humour or imagery; or an emotionally resonant story and you’re more likely to capture people’s attention. Look at how BA used their digital platform to engage with fans with a campaign entitled “Home Advantage”. They used Twitter to create a digital symphony, a measuring tool to find 6/ out how British supporters were responding
  7. 7. MYTH #4 “An iconic setting is beyond our reach“Beach volleyball in front But such iconic settings are not Be prepared to find the impossible. To discover a setting thatof Horse Guards parade; outside brands’ reach. You can create can become iconic you have to be imaginative, creative and an extraordinary environment if resourceful and bear the following in mind:a state-of-the-art Olympic you’re open to the idea that anything • Be flexible and open mindedPark in East London, a is possible. • Look to offer something new that hasn’t been done beforetime trial race culminating A blank canvas can often provide the best setting, allowing • Prepare to overcome obstacles that may never have beenoutside Hampton Court you to be more experimental and imaginative. This may challenged before mean exploring obscure sites – we’ve scoured the worldPalace: it’s hard to think for disused air hangars and airfields for automotive clients, • Change habits and push the boundaries with both client and venuesof more iconic settings. looked at underground tunnels for fashion and sourced pop up shops for product launches. Or sometimes that blank • Stay up to date with the latest trends canvas is in a cool gallery, a hidden roof space or even a • Contemplate every eventuality traditional congress centre. • Ensure best value for money and service • Build and maintain strong relationships with environmental location agencies, marketing agencies, national and international major hotel chains, independently owned properties, worldwide destination management companies • Above all, have a fully integrated team – creative, logistics and technical teams working side by side And it doesn’t have to be about the building – technology can create new worlds in the unlikeliest of places. For one Olympic sponsor we transformed an old fashioned hotel ballroom into an enchanted forest using 270 degree projection. Guests were then taken on a journey along the River Thames – from the beautiful greenery of Kew all the way to the Olympic Park, turning a standard welcome dinner into an unexpected adventure. 7/
  8. 8. MYTH #5 “Of course the budget has to be huge“Thinking big doesn’t 1. Invest in strong ideas that will travel Augmented reality, for instance, can bring immediacy andnecessarily mean you Powerful ideas are priceless. They can make the difference impact to global presentations; allowing a remote audience to between a visually impressive but instantly forgettable feel immediately immersed in a 3D presentation, rather thanhave to spend big. experience, and a brand experience that is emotionally passively observing a PowerPoint presentation from their desk. engaging, memorable and reaches multiple people becauseThere are many clever and they want to share and retell it. Take that strong idea and 5. Make the venue do the work: if you choosecreative ways to create multiply it and you really have won gold. Think multi- somewhere that is a good fit with your brand; it can makememorable experiences purposed content: create (and pay for) it once; repurpose, everything more cost-effective; as you don’t have to spend so refine; re-use multiple times. If the content is good and the much dressing the space or trying to turn it into somethingthat don’t come with the idea strong this will work. it’s not. So if the product you’re launching, for example, issame price tag as the a gritty urban computer game, why not set the launch in aopening ceremony of 2. Use your audience: make them part of the gritty, urban setting, complete with already burnt out cars, and experience; not just passive observers. Get them to become graffiti? Accompany this with army rations for the cateringthe Olympics. the entertainment; set them a task; get them to share their and other props inspired by the game and you have an talent. People learn more by doing than watching so they’ll authentic memorable launch experience. be more engaged and invigorated and messages will be absorbed with a longer lasting impact. 3. Use a venue you own. Don’t feel restricted by what it looks like; it can be dressed in a multitude of ways and props can all help bring the experience to life. This works particularly well if you’re creating a theatrical immersive experience, as people focus on the detail of what they are experiencing in their immediate surrounds; other people or actors and the props. The investment here is in creativity rather than budget. 4. Be clever with technology. Technology advances at such a rapid rate that it is hard to keep pace; but it can offer exceptional opportunities for enhancing live experience. 8/
  9. 9. FINAL WORDThe Olympics are, perhaps, the ultimatebrand experience but, nonetheless wecan learn from every aspect of thatamazing example to craft our ownbrand experiences.You don’t have to have the biggestbudget, the most impressive venue ora horde of willing volunteers to delivera genuinely breath-taking experience.You just need to be open to new ideas,be willing to stop focussing on thechallenges and certainly believe thatyour brand has a purpose and offersan experience that’s uniquely compellingfor your people and your customers.We hope we’ve inspired you to lookat things differently and that we’vesucceeded in debunking some myths,but we’re always interested in sharingopinions. So do get in touch if youwant to talk some more. 9/
  10. 10. TALK TO JACKJulian Pullan ABOUT JACK MORTONE: Jack Morton Worldwide is a global brand experienceT: +44 20 8735 2000 agency with offices on five continents. Our agency culture promotes breakthrough ideas about howLiz Bigham experiences connect brands and people - in person,E: online, at retail and through the power of digital andT: +1 212 401 7212 word of mouth influence. We work with both BtoC and BtoB clients to create powerful and effectiveRead our blog at experiences that engage customers and consumers,Follow us on twitter @jackmorton launch products, align employees and build strongVisit us online at experience brands. Ranked at the top of our field, we earned over 50 awards for creativity, execution and effectiveness last year. Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). © Jack Morton Worldwide 2012 10/