Olympic Games Event
Event Planning and Development
5 January 2006
1. Introduction 3
2. Sydney Olympic Games 2000 4 - 5
3. The Impact of the Event 6 - 7
4. Sponsorship of the Event 8 - 11
5. Strategic Marketing of the Event 11 - 13
6. Conclusion 13
The purpose of this report is to examine and critically analyse a specific event. The event which will be used in this assignment is the Sydney Olympic Games 2000. The reason for the chosen event is based on its scale. The Olympic Games are a major scale event and with the events media coverage can attract a significant amount of visitors. This report will analyse this event in terms of the following; the impact of the event, sponsorship of the event and strategic marketing of the event.
2. Sydney Olympic Games 2000
The Sydney Olympic Games were justifiably heralded as the "Best Olympic Games ever". They were a great sporting spectacle, enjoyed daily by hundreds of thousands of spectators and billions of TV viewers world-wide. The facilities were top class and the organisation was both impeccable and welcoming. That alone is quite something. But there was even more.
Sydney's games were known as the 'Green Games'. Even Greenpeace awarded the organisers a Bronze Medal for environmental achievement and the event reinforced the International Olympic Committee's claim that environment is the third pillar of Olympism alongside sport and culture.
Throughout the seven years of preparation, from winning the bid in 1993 to staging the event in September 2000, the organisers consistently paid close attention to ensuring that these Olympic Games would be environmentally responsible. From the massive clean up of Homebush Bay to the last detail in the choice of building materials, water conservation and energy efficiency, this was a truly substantial undertaking. (www.sydney.au)
The Olympic Games are simply huge. The 2000 Games were the largest ever in terms of number of sports and number of participating countries: Nearly 11,000 athletes from 200 countries competed in 28 different sports. It was the largest peace time event ever staged in Australia. At this scale, how can the Games be 'green'? The resources used, the energy consumed, waste generated, impacts on land use and traffic congestion, might at first
appear to suggest the very opposite.
Olympic Games are a long time in preparation. The story of Sydney's environmental initiatives goes back to the time of the bid competition in the early 1990s. The host city for the 2000 Games, was announced in 1993, leaving Sydney exactly seven years to get the show up and running. Although this may appear a long time scale, there could be no shifting of deadlines. The dates for the Games were written in stone and everything had to be in place for that time. This makes it all the more creditable that environmental issues were given such prominence.
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3. The Impact of the Event
The environmental approach by the Sydney bid team was very timely. In 1992 the International Olympic Committee had been represented at the 2nd Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro. This can perhaps be marked as the beginning of the Olympic Movement's awakening to environmental issues - further reinforced by the then well advanced preparations for the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, at which the environmental dimension was given considerable attention. It was an ideal moment to latch onto the IOC's move towards making the environment the "Third Pillar of Olympism", alongside sport and culture. Bowdin (2001)
Five key performance areas were identified:
- Energy conservation
- Water conservation
- Waste avoidance and minimisation
- Air, water and soil quality (Pollution management)
- Protection of significant natural and cultural environments
These were backed by over 100 wide-ranging commitments set out in a set of Environmental Guidelines produced as part of the bid. Although these commitments covered what were thought to be every relevant issue, they were not sufficiently specific to provide an accurate and commonly agreed basis for measuring performance. One
major omission, recognised today but not an issue in the early 1990's was for independent auditing and accountability. Much of the argument that occurred between the different stakeholders in the Sydney Olympics, can be linked to these points.
Inevitably, as the work progressed, technology advanced, new information emerged and community expectations changed, so that the interpretation of the original guidelines became even more stretched. In 1995 the Olympic Co-ordination Authority translated the Guidelines into an Environment Strategy to focus on three key performance areas: Conservation of Species; Conservation of Resources and Pollution Control. Essentially this enabled a certain redefining of the Guidelines to what was felt to be achievable and practicable. Environmental groups inevitably saw this as a weakening of commitment. It further highlights the importance of independent monitoring and reporting, and the need for clear performance indicators and benchmarks in the future.
Large scale events, including non-sport events, have generally been ignored by those involved in the sustainability debate. However, there is now a growing realisation that major events do have significant environmental and wider sustainability issues, both in terms of impact and opportunities for leaving a long-term legacy. More especially, sport events in particular are massively popular with global media coverage. By harnessing some of the enthusiasm and interest in sport, there could be unrivalled opportunities for communicating sustainability issues in a popular manner to a large audience, on a scale unimaginable to traditional environmental programmes. Bowdin (2001)
4. Sponsorship of the Event
It's reassuring to know, that in an industry that occasionally nudges towards an overdose of self-importance a handful of sports marketing professionals exist who approach the day job with a healthy dose of cynicism. For a dose of irony must surely have played a part when the decision was taken by the organisers of the Salt Lake City Olympics to select an appropriate, relevant partner to manage its recruitment and staffing needs. For a Game trying desperately to reposition itself from a corruption-ridden nightmare to an attractive celebration of the best of humanity, you would think that the last brand name the Games would want aligned to its own would be Monster. Dot com, that is.
But whilst on the surface there's a certain ironic tinge to this partnership, it's the first time the Olympics has had a dot com sponsor, and is testament to a company whose competitors' marketers have gone from spending millions on Super Bowl advertising breaks to having ample time to watch daytime television in less than a year. The company is working with the full range of Olympic participants, from the thousands of volunteers that are the backbone of the Games to top-flight athletes whose sporting career will one day come to an end, and who all need career advice and management.
But why would a first-time sponsor align itself with a major sports event whose image, crucial to its commercial success, was arguably tarnished? After all, at a major
conference held at the University of Sydney during the 2000 games the Australian Judge Patricia O'Shane noted, in a debate on the moral health of the Olympic movement, that:
"The IOC is not living up to the ideals it expects the athletes to embrace. It certainly doesn't hold moral and ethical values at the core of its business."
It would appear that consumers think the same way - a nation-wide poll undertaken by Performance Research shortly after the Salt Lake City scandal broke indicated that 40% believed "Their overall impression of the Olympics has been damaged". But it seems that in the minds of most consumers there's a distinction between the IOC and the Games and the companies who sponsor them. In the same poll 85% indicated that they "welcome corporate sponsorship if it keeps the Olympics going", and, even more encouraging for sponsors, 30% said that "a company's involvement in the Olympics has a positive impact on my everyday purchasing decisions". Evidence from the Sydney Olympics would suggest the trend continuing since, thanks to a deliberate strategy by the organising committee of not repeating the commercial circus that Atlanta had been, awareness of Olympic sponsors involved in both Games was much higher in Sydney than Atlanta - a leap of 9% to 35% in the case of McDonald's. Less is clearly more - over 200 companies had some form of commercial partnership with Atlanta whilst in Sydney only 100 could lay claim to an official Olympic involvement. (www.usyd.edu.au)
Perhaps, for the first time in Sydney, the right balance was found between the commercial needs of the Games and the aesthetics of the event. Consumer-oriented
Olympic sponsors finally woke up to the fact that buying the rights to the rings would not, alone, achieve anything and only by adding value to the occasion in an appropriate and strategic way would they stand the remotest chance of achieving something resembling a payback on their investment.
Sponsors have not been slow in coming forwards to support Beijing 2008 either. Not surprising, given the potential scale of the Chinese market, one might say. But what is more surprising is that those sponsors who openly criticised the IOC for its slack ethics in relation to Salt Lake City and who feared for the potential damage such association might have on their brands, clearly think that the opportunity for business in China vastly outweighs the potential downside of an affiliation with an event in a country with an appalling human rights record. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticised Olympic sponsors for their apparent hypocrisy on this matter, and sponsors will have to be very aware of the risk to their brand image should it be proven that China is guilty of further human rights abuses directly linked to the Games.
Perhaps, and at the risk of being over-optimistic, Beijing 2008 can finally provide an opportunity for Olympic sponsors to not only benefit from the commercial exploitation of their involvement with the Games but to also make a tangible and visible difference to the lives of the Chinese population. For example, instead of following the expected path of avoiding any interference in the organisation and running of the event, the time might be right for media, telecoms and communications sponsors to press hard for restrictions on freedom of expression to be lifted before the Games, and for clothing and footwear
sponsors to ensure, finally, that fundamental labour rights are adhered to.
Successful sponsors recognise the extraordinary synergy that can result when two major brands come together - in this instance an association with the world's largest sporting event. But this benefit can quickly be usurped when the image of the Olympics is becomes tarnished. With the turnover of the largest corporations exceeding that of the GDP of some countries, perhaps sponsors can become a force for change to leave a lasting, positive legacy for the markets in which the Games are taking place, and for the population who will ultimately, it is hoped, become consumers of their products. (www.gamesinfo.com.au)
5. Strategic Marketing of the Event
After nearly 15 years as a worldwide sponsor of the Olympic Games, Visa International understands it takes more than adding "rings" to business cards or pitching hospitality tents to effectively leverage the world's premier sports and cultural event.
As any Olympic athlete knows, winning the Gold on the playing field takes dedication, practice, and expertise. In addition, setting the Gold standard in Olympic Games marketing takes a true understanding of the Games, hours of planning and coordination and a world-class investment of people.
But the payoff for an effective marketing campaign can be as rewarding as the Games themselves. "You have to view marketing the Olympics as a full-time, multi-year commitment, and, of course, you have to love what you are doing, " said Tom Shepard, Visa International's senior vice president for International Marketing Partnerships and Sponsorships. "Our goal is to look for innovative ways to evolve the utilization of the property and give our member banks the full benefits that this sponsorship platform provides. In fact, we are already well along in our preparations for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens."
One tenet of Olympic marketing that Visa fully understands is that the most substantial global results come before the Olympic Games begin. Game-time presents a good opportunity for incremental local programming and hospitality on site, but the multi-year period leading up to the Games is where you market to the community and the world.
It takes at least four years to develop and effectively employ each Olympic marketing program, requiring Visa's advance teams to leap-frog from one Olympic city to the next. “For us, the years of hard work prior to an Olympic Games have become the real cornerstone of our marketing programs, providing tangible results,” Shepard says, “and then in the final months and weeks as the world focuses on the Olympic Games there’s a power surge of activity that keeps us challenged and excited.”
Visa's preparations for the Sydney Olympics began in earnest in 1997, when it formed an exclusive Destination Marketing consortium with three premier Australian travel and tourism partners. This successful partnership has resulted in more than US$40 million in marketing value for Australia to date. (international.visa.com/av/main.jsp)
One of the keys to Visa’s marketing success is the focus on the Olympic host city and country, sometimes overlooked by others. When Sydney, ranked consistently as the world’s most desirable tourist destination, was named host to the 2000 Olympic Games, it was natural that Visa, the world’s leading payment brand, would want to connect the three great brands: the Olympic Games, Visa, and Sydney, Australia.
To conclude, this report has identified what made the Olympic Games 2000 such a successful event. It has analysed the impact of the event, the strategic marketing of the event and the main sponsorship of the event. In addition, it has examined these factors in depth and found that these aspects are what made the Sydney Olympic Games 2000 unique.
Bowdin, G. (2001) “Events Management”, Butterworth Heinemann
International Visa Homepage: international.visa.com/av/main.jsp (04 January 2006)
Olympic Games Sydney Online: www.gamesinfo.com.au (03 January 2006)
Official Sydney Website: www.sydney.au (22 December 2005)
Press Release Visa -- Setting the Gold Standard in Olympic Games Marketing:
http://www.visaeu.com/pressandmedia/press85_pressreleases.html (04 January 2006)
University of Sydney Online: www.usyd.edu.au (03 January 2006)