Gold rush

They may have an ordinary looking logo, but the recent news that the London Olympic Committee (London 2012) is well on the way to fulfilling its quota of sponsors is great news for the city. London 2012 is seeking to reach its goal of generating $5 billion in revenue from the Games and at over $100 million a spot, the eight London-specific sponsorships create a sizeable dent in the ambitious target.

The deals come on top of the 12 traditional sponsors that the International Olympic Committee offers in The Olympic Partnership (TOP) program. TOP, which first began in 1988, in many ways revolutionised major event sponsorships, focusing on co-branding goals with major multinationals and creating an element of scarcity and exclusive opportunity for clients willing to pay the high entrance fee. The jewel in that crown has been the prospect of taking brands into China on the back of the Olympic Games, a dream of course that is less than a year away and already being heavily exploited by the multinationals in the current TOP arrangement. It has now become impossible to travel throughout Asia and not feel the heavy presence of the Games in marketing.

My favourite campaign thus far is from Visa, whose use of movie star Jackie Chan to flaunt its exclusive credit card access has been well executed. And speaking of celebrities, while the most marketed Chinese athlete of recent years has been NBA player Yao Ming, my information suggests that 110-metre hurdles hero, Liu Xiang, is the man who will get the job to light the flame at the opening ceremony next August. Liu, the reigning Olympic and world champion is arguably the most popular athlete on the planet given his superstar status in China; even though you have probably never heard of him!

Live revival

The market for recorded music might be on the decline, but your favourite pop star need not put the orange Lamborghini on eBay just yet, given the growing resurgence of live concerts. Seeing your music stars live was always a big deal, but recent tours and ticket prices indicate that the industry is booming. As critic Robert Sandall so beautifully noted in Prospect magazine recently, it was possible to buy all of Madonna’s recordings for less than half of what it cost to see her perform on her last tour.
For those of you worrying that the internet is killing personal contact, the strong growth in concert attendances is a good sign. People want to socialise and to experience special moments in their life with the company of others. It’s a good lesson for marketers to remain aware of as they chase the digital age.

Hyper-reality

The Prose and Cons hype-o-meter, being marketing-oriented, is calibrated to bear maximum weight. The meter is about to go off the scale, however, if online virtual reality world Second Life gets any more exposure. In case you have somehow missed it, Second Life is an internet three-dimensional world that has existed since 2003. It brings together thousands of people displayed as motional ‘avatars’ from across the globe in a user-created planet of commerce and socialisation. It has also, if you accept the hype, made some of the world’s major brands all hot and sweaty at the prospect of marketing interactively to these people. Frankly I am not sold on the concept and I am not sure why major brands are either. There are already millions of people online and they happily interface with sites all the time. Do they really need this relatively clunky new digital world? And how many people really are ‘Second-Lifers’? It is hard to get a figure and I suspect there is a very large gap between ‘registrations’ (the trialists) and those who regularly explore the online world they are helping create. If these people are seeking a new world, do they really want to take with them all the old world brands that exist in the life they are currently leading?

Weltklasse television

A quick word on the Weltklasse Zurich Golden League athletics event Prose and Cons was lucky enough to recently attend. The meeting, held in a new stadium just a short tram ride from the city centre, was beautifully presented and featured a cavalcade of track and field stars in 15 events. The only negative was representative of the modern marketing phenomenon of television driving events. Being broadcast across Europe in prime time, the meeting was programmed for just a two-hour timeslot, making following the proceedings from the stadium (bratwurst in hand) difficult. At one stage there was men’s and women’s pole vault, a track race, the javelin and the triple jump all occurring simultaneously. I didn’t know where to look and building any sense of excitement was difficult given the divided attention. It looked good in the stadium, but I suspect it would have been even better on television with the producers able to record and cue developments in an unfolding story.