Olympic blog: And the Gold goes to…

Steve McEwen names the best and worst Games sponsors and partners, from his on-the-ground vantage point in London.

Steve McEwen is an experiential marketer who most recently worked as a communications manager with Initials Marketing in London. He has worked across events, promotional marketing and sponsorship activation in Canada with brands including Microsoft Xbox, Rogers Communications and Samsung Mobile. He  has been blogging throughout the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

As the London 2012 Olympic Games come to a close this weekend, my coverage of the event is set to end as well. I feel it’s only fitting to summarize my sponsorship coverage with a media medal ceremony based on which brands best activated their sponsorship (or partnership) of the 2012 games.

Gold Medal – BMW: The sponsorship people at BMW deserve some serious credit for negotiating the best use of an Olympic sponsorship at this year’s Games.

The automaker provided mini remote controlled BMW Minis to the Olympic Park grounds crew, in order to pick up and return javelins, shots and discuses to the competitors during the athletics events. The mini Minis escaped the sponsor police’s ‘clean venue’ policy, and became a hit with fans and media, no doubt gaining them additional return on this sponsorship.

Silver Medal – Heineken: The long-time sponsor and event organizer of Heineken Holland House has invested in becoming an official sponsor for its first time at the London 2012 Games. As well as signing on as the official beer and cider of the Games (often the only beer you can order at the venues, and many of the surrounding live events) they also launched a campaign that included on-pack promotions as well as in bar POS and branding, with a goal of turning regular pubs into Heineken-readied establishments. The “Open Your World” campaign was led with a traditional film spot and was launched prior to the Olympics but the message carried through.

Okay so technically this is a partner, not a sponsor…

Bronze Medal – EDF Energy: EDF Energy executed a very smart use of their sponsorship of the London Eye and their partnership with the 2012 Games by lighting up the iconic London landmark with a social media based “Energy of the Nation” light show. Partner agency Ignite worked with programmers from MIT to identify words in U.K.-based tweets, which showed ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ emotions and then have a light show that corresponded to the current “Energy of the Nation.” The integrated social campaign had a mobile app for iPhone/iPad users, as well as a Facebook App that measured your personal positivity and timeline highlights.

My most liked Facebook update for this campaign was when I posted my decision to “change things up and move to London”… either my friends are very supportive, or they were getting sick of me in Toronto!

And now for the DNFs (did not finish, or for lack of a better term…losers).

McDonald’s: Even misleading headlines can’t get around the fact that the Olympic Sponsorship this year hurt the global company, with sales dropping to a two-year low for the month of July.

McDonald’s, however, had endless queues inside all four of their Olympic restaurants, including their largest-ever restaurant (at 3,000 square-meters it was set to serve over 50,000 big mac’s through the course of the games).

It leads one to wonder whether the sight of athletic magnificence in the form of a Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt or U.K. sensation Jessica Ennis is actually a fast food deterrent for those outside the Olympic-host city. Maybe athletic images on fast food aren’t the best idea?

Adidas: Trying to battle the brilliant non-sponsor push of rival Nike has been tough for Adidas. Having to fight the Olympic protestors has been tougher. After Usain Bolt’s gold medal winning 100m dash a protest group called War on Want used a gigantic projection to capture the audiences attention upon leaving the Olympic stadium. The group claimed that Adidas has been exploiting workers in it’s Thai factories and projected “Exploitation. Not okay here. #notokayanywhere.” With future protests in the works, Adidas really has its hands filled with this one.

This being my last post, I will take my victory lap now, to simply say that if you ever get the chance to go to the host city for any of the future Olympic or Paralympic games, I highly recommend it. The atmosphere is incredible and the international community is embracing. Hopefully Canada embraces them back with a better international showing in the form of an open to the public National Olympic House – anyone who was at Molson Hockey House in Vancouver at the 2012 Games knows how special it can be.

Farewell, enjoy the Closing Ceremony this weekend. I have heard the Spice Girls are performing, and if the EDF Energy lightshow properly reflects the mood of nostalgic mid to late 20-year-old females, then I’m positive the ceremony will light up the world!