Brand Strategy / Opinion

An Olympic sized mistake could cost London 2012 dearly

If you’re following any of the build up to the London 2012 Olympics, you’ll be aware that there is a concert in Hyde Park to coincide with the opening ceremony.

This is a spectacularly bad move, for LOCOG, for the London 2012 Olympics and for the viewing public.

Here’s why.

This morning, I asked my Twitter followers (generally, and two in particular) what they thought about the concert.

Edmund Chartier, of Savvy & Victor, said:

Callum Saunders, from a leading integrated agency in the North of England, added:

Both raised excellent points and I feel their cynicism.

As a PR stunt, the concert’s not a bad idea. It’s success, of course, will depend on how much the tickets cost and so on.

But that’s not why I think it’s a total and utter failure from LOCOG’s Olympic brand management point of view.

Since it was announced that London would hold the 2012 Olympic Games back in 2008, LOCOG have been talking the Games up.

They’ve recruited Danny Boyle to devise the Opening Ceremony – which is costing a reported £27m.

As one of the hottest British film directors of the moment, it should be spectacular.

They’re trying to make the Olympics into the biggest event that the country has seen for a generation, and return a hefty ROI to the sponsors.

The culmination of this work is the Opening Ceremony.

The moment when the eyes of the world will be on London, on the Olympics.

Regardless of the sport that you follow, the Opening Ceremony is it.

Or not.

Because now, the Opening Ceremony is nothing more than filler between a set of stage acts.

In one swift, fatal move, LOCOG have allowed one of their own ‘London 2012 Olympic Partners’ – BT – to undo all of the work that has been done to date by giving us something else to watch.

To quote from the official press release:

The full coverage of the Opening Ceremony from the Olympic Park will also be shown on selected screens.

OK, so they will be showing some of the ceremony in between acts. Or maybe the acts will be in between the more interesting bits of the ceremony.

That’s bad for the Opening Ceremony. And bad for the acts.

I doubt that Danny Boyle’s hard and expensive work will be in vain. The concert goers will get to see the best bits while they wait for Duran Duran to take the stage.

At home, we might be watching the concert on TV, not watching the Opening Ceremony.

This defeats the object.

There are two crucial rules of brand management here that we all can learn from.

One: If you’ve spent millions of hours, millions of pounds promoting something across the globe, don’t give people something else to watch.

All eyes should be on you and your product or service.

Because, if you launch a concert in Hyde Park, your message is that you’re not worth watching in your entirety. And certainly not worth the money that you’ve spent on promotion.

Two: Don’t create an ‘Or’. Create an ‘and’.

LOCOG and BT have created an ‘or’ situation.

Do we watch the Opening Ceremony, or the concert?

By scheduling the concert for after the closing ceremony, we’d have had an ‘and’ situation.

Watch the ceremony and the concert.

Watch all of both.

Not some of either.

In the great long litany of brand mistakes, this could prove to be one of the biggest.

Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.
The featured image for this post is a screengrab from


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