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A Sponsorship Property’s Perspective – Brand Presence.
Sponsorships & Strategic Partnerships
For a period of 6 weeks starting January 21, 2014, The KMAC GROUP will be tracking Olympic sponsor activations demonstrating sponsorship best practices that will help you achieve a positive return on your investment. Each week, we’ll be assessing the Olympic sponsorship practices of leading global and Canadian companies, tracking their activities at all touch points to see how they use sponsorship to drive sales and identify which practices work best.
Our second posting in this series is taking a different approach, shining the spotlight on the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), identifying the steps they have taken to build their brand, land such lucrative and high-profile sponsorships and partnerships while outlining which best practices they’ve implemented to achieve success.
Last week, we introduced 4 Sponsorship Best Practices:
Sponsorship Practice #1: Deliver a Simple, Clear Message;
Sponsorship Practice #2: Connect with your audience emotionally;
Sponsorship Practice #3: Take an integrated, holistic approach;
Sponsorship Practice #4: Market your core strategy through Sport … It’s not just an Olympic campaign;
This week, we’re introducing 3 more best practices:
Sponsorship Practice #5. Innovative Sponsorship “Adding value to existing ideas and platforms” to make them better, more productive and efficient. Innovation is essential in defining the strategy to make big ideas valuable and viable to both the market and to the brand or company.
Sponsorship Practice #6: Engaging your audience. Be clear about how your brand will add value to the experience. Demonstrate this value through active audience engagement, not passive promotion.
Sponsorship Practice #7: Get in the game, in real-time. The London Olympics were known as the most social Olympic games to date. A flood of Twitter, Facebook and other digital activity streams supported the live TV experience. Marketing teams need to be ready to interact with, address, be present and engaged in the conversation as it’s happening in real time!
Canadian Olympic Committee Analysis:
To look ahead, we first must look into the past and recognize how far the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has come. Heading into the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games I was working with Official Canadian Team Outfitter “Champion”. There was very little momentum and interest in licensed Canadian Olympic product. Retailers were not interested in carrying the Official Team Gear product and the public was not emotionally connected to the Team or Games. Things began to change in 1998 when the NHL sent professionals to the 1998 Nagano Games. Roots raised the bar on how licensed team merchandise was designed and created a connection with the public allowing Canadians to “feel” like they were part of the Canadian Olympic Team. The COC (known as the COA back then) began a brand building process that today had vaulted them into a leading sport property. The COC is a national, private, not-for-profit organization committed to sports excellence. They are responsible for all aspects of Canada’s involvement in the Olympic Movement, including Canada’s participation in the Olympic, Youth Olympic and Pan American games. (CNW: Canadian Olympic Committee Company Profile) They are committed to delivering the resources Canada’s elite athletes need to perform at their best.
(Official Champion Olympic Gear, 1996 Atlantic Olympic Games)
Fast forward to 2010 – Vancouver 2010 – ‘Own The Podium’ and the changing face of Olympic marketing in Canada.
What is ‘Own The Podium’?
- Own The Podium, launched in 2005, is a not-for-profit organization that prioritizes and determines investment strategies to national sport organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada. This initiative assisted Canada and Canadian Athletes in their quest to be the top medal finisher at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
- It was also an online campaign that invited Canadians across the country to show their Olympic colours and support the Canadian Olympic team on its quest to ‘Own The Podium’ in Vancouver 2010.
- The purpose of this campaign was to give Canadians the opportunity to remember and celebrate the country’s past Olympians as well as financially support the Canadian team.
- The program’s focus was to provide additional resources, leadership, expertise and high performance sport programming and coaches to help them achieve podium success.
- Own The Podium helped Canada produce 14 gold medals!
London 2012 – ‘Give Your Everything’ – faced with the hangover of the 2010 Vancouver Games euphoria, the Canadian Olympic Committee was faced with a new challenge – how to rebrand itself and secure new sponsors and generate new revenue streams to replace those lost by 2010 sponsors such as General Motors Canada, Rona and Acer.
The result – ‘Give Your Everything’
What is ‘Give Your Everything’?
- ‘Give Your Everything’ was a 15-week, multi-platform national campaign of the Canadian Olympic Team, containing more than 800 Out of Home placements, print, radio, digital short documentaries and fifteen, 30 and 60 second digital TV spots.
- It not only won them their first Canadian Marketing Association award but also was deemed their most successful branding campaign to date.
- This campaign highlighted Olympic hopefuls and their coaches from 8 different sports, focusing on their inspirational efforts as they prepared to compete for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Sochi 2014 – ‘We Are Winter’
What is ‘We Are Winter’?
- ‘We Are Winter’ is their most integrated, digitally enabled and largest brand undertaking in COC history.
- A national advertising campaign based on more than 100 hours of video footage highlighting Canada’s natural scenery, including mini-documentaries featuring the likes of Kaillie Humphries, Mark McMorris and Mikael Kingsbury.
- The purpose of this campaign is to showcase the drive and determination athletes have as they train for the Olympic games and get to know the athletes more personally
- They officially on-boarded Twitter as their social media partner of the Canadian Olympic Team, and are actively translating these tweets to a true ‘conversation’ using the #WeAreWinter hashtag
- The $14 million campaign is the largest-ever for the COC, and more than double the budget of ‘Give Your Everything’.
- The COC is expected to have twice the media reach of anything the COC has ever done before, while raising the profile of Canadian athletes and the COC
How did the COC implement best practices?
Sponsorship Practice #5. Innovative Sponsorship “Adding value to existing ideas and platforms”
The Canadian Olympic committee recognized the massive amount of momentum from the Vancouver Games and decided to up the ante. To top their already wildly successful ‘Give Your Everything’ campaign that earned them sponsorship deals with high profile companies such as BMW Group Canada and Canadian Tire Corp, Ltd, they rebranded Olympic.ca to strengthen their digital presence as well as better highlight Canadian athletes and serve the needs of fans and the Canadian Olympic team as a whole. Simple idea, but made a world of difference. It’s not about maintenance, it’s about improving and constantly pushing forward by creating an emotional, engaging, valuable, desirable property that this group of esteemed companies wanted to be associated with.
Sponsorship Practice #6: Engaging your audience.
More often than not, when something changes in the marketplace, it usually captures someone’s attention, and in this case; it not only attracted supporters and fans, but also sponsorships and strategic partnerships. By sparking a new level of support and interest through their impactful and large scale marketing campaigns, it has elevated the COC brand, making them a desirable partner for leading companies and brands. Through these campaigns and constant brand refinement, they were able to engage potential stakeholders with their ability to be effective in what they do.
Sponsorship Practice #7: Get in the game, in real-time.
Taking another dimension to the next level, the COC amplified their digital presence with a new partnership with Twitter, naming them their Official Social Media Partner of the Canadian Olympic Team. This partnership provides a unique partnership where they can share brand campaign content with Twitter users across the country, as well as create ‘true’ real-time conversations using the #WeAreWinter hashtag. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s the fact that we need to be present, engage our audience and interact with them in ‘real-time’.
The strategic branding effort made by the COC to increase their credibility and raise their brand presence appears to have already paid out substantial gains in winning corporate sponsors who will help further push the COC forward into the hearts and minds of Canadians, the Canadian Olympic Team and for the country.
The airline is launching stand-up comedy and live music acts on Little Red flights to give passengers a one-of-a-kind flying experience.