So, what can we learn from the London 2012 Olympics?

21 Sep 2012|Kate Jones

The spectacle of the Para Olympics fades from memory, the flame has gone, the parade has happened and   now we’re all back at work depressed. Politicians are vying to create political capital about the Games – but what can we as marketers learn?

This is a story that isn’t about successful corporate sponsorships, affinity marketing, social media, guerrilla marketing (although Nike did play a blinder with the trainers) or brand winners and losers. It is much simpler than that. It is about people.

Think about all the elements of the marketing mix – the P’s. Think down that list and you pretty much would give the Olympics a tick in every one of those boxes.

Product – World elite  sport, and global sporting celebrities. TICK

Place – Olympic Park, Horseguards parade, the Velodrome, The aquatic Park … the list goes on. All fabulous. TICK

Price – from the accessible right up to the ridiculous. TICK

Promo – Sponsorship nailed. BBC coverage nailed. TICK

Packaging – Looked consistently great in every venue. TICK

Positioning – The peoples’ Olympics. Was this consistent in the hearts and minds of customers? TICK.  ( a word about this. The British element of the character was delivered in spades – from the Danny Boyle opening extravaganza right down to the eateries in the park  – fish and chips, curry and a pub. Simple but ruthlessly effective)

People. – The people who do it and the people who deliver it. TICK. Who wasn’t delighted by the army of volunteers creating a mini positivity revolution across London this summer? Genius. They were amazing. Firstly, in their sheer numbers. They were everywhere – you didn’t have to look for them, they found you. Second – they knew their stuff and really wanted to help and make sure you had a great games experience. Third – they were loving every minute (or if they weren’t it certainly felt like it) and finally they were as eclectic and modern British as the Games themselves (on Brand) – from all walks of life, across all ages and ethnicities as multicultural and diverse as London itself.

Getting this P right really made a difference.

An important and often forgotten P. It strays out of the remit and responsibility of the Marketing department and although recommendations can be made on the type and calibre of people required in customer facing roles to deliver the required ‘on brand’ service, the decision comes down to cost. Here’s the kicker – ‘you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’ You want customer centric, educated, engaging and caring people who fully support the business strategy and buy into the company values. You get untrained, unqualified minimum wage applicants who are interested in money, not strategy, not corporate values and not delivery of service, so what do you do?

By totally disrupting the business model here, the Games turned this on its head. It didn’t look for employees, but VOLUNTEERS. People who WANT to be a part of the games, prepared to sacrifice their time – people who have a vocation. Suddenly the huge cost of staffing disappears and the investment can be made in their recruitment, kit, training – the tools they need to do the job. Now we are cooking on gas. We have the right people, in the right number with the right tools, ability and dedication to deliver the experience we want. That is tipping the odds to success – and it worked a charm.

The next time you review your Marketing strategy, think about who is delivering it  and how it is delivered because it can really make a difference.

Ocado believe so much in the value of customer service, that they recruit their drivers based on that first and THEN teach them to drive. John Lewis Partnership is just that, a partnership, where everyone is responsible for delivering the brand. Abercrombie and Fitch / Hollister take delivery of the brand very seriously – they don’t recruit shop assistants, they audition for them.

The people P, it’s a big one.

London 2012, made by people, for the people.


Written by Kate Jones, Director, Added Value UK

Picture source: London 2012

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