The relationship of brands to major global sporting events has transformed in a short period of time. In our interview with Kim Myhre, he discusses how his agency understands these developments as brand sponsorships shift towards engagement and storytelling.
Tell us about your background and what you do as CEO of Project: WorldWide EMEA.
I have more than twenty years of experience in advertising, marketing, brand strategy, events and experience marketing. Right now I’m particularly interested in how the blurring of live/online experience is changing the relationship that brands have with consumers and transforming brand marketing.
As CEO of Project: Worldwide in EMEA I am responsible for leading Project Worldwide’s network of partner agencies to deliver integrated engagement marketing campaigns throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa for some of the worlds leading brands. That includes social media, shopper marketing, interactive, and all kinds of consumer and B2B experiences taking place online, on devices, and face-to-face.
How has the role of brands at the Olympics evolved over time (in the past 10-20 years)?
I think the main evolution of the role of brands has been one of moving from passive brand awareness to active brand engagement. Today’s sponsors need to do much more than just show up and advertise their logo. They need to actively participate in the spirit of the event by providing a useful product or service, supporting the community, being relevant, standing for something bigger than just selling more product. They have to be engaged and give back in a way that demonstrates core brand values that are aligned with the values of the modern Olympic games (i.e. respect, excellence and friendship).
Through this kind of active brand engagement brands are the beneficiaries of the awareness, sales and loyalty they want to achieve.
What types of brands do particularly well during major events like the Olympics?
Brands that tell a great story, a story that people everywhere can relate to, tend to do well around the Olympics. They go beyond product messaging to lay out a vision for how their brand makes a difference in the world, how it makes the world better. This applies to both consumer and business brands using the Olympics platform.
Traditionally brands with very deep pockets achieved the greatest impact, but increasingly brands that focus their investment on demonstrating relevance to the audience and adding real value to the Olympics experience can compete with those that have major budgets.
Brands that benefit the most from Olympics sponsorships see the Games as just one event in a series of ongoing brand engagements. For example, P&G’s “Focus on Moms” campaign transcends the Games. The campaign is an ongoing series of marketing activities that include TV, print and online advertising, online and live experiences and in-store promotions. Much of the campaign has nothing to do with the Olympics. It’s really about the relationship between the P&G brand and moms. Of course, it’s very applicable to the Games; it’s emotional in its recognition of the moms of Olympic athletes, and it’s relevant because it voices support for this community during the Games. But again, while “Focus on Moms” is a very strong fit with the Olympics, it is not confined to the Games. The relevance of the campaign to this important audience extends well beyond the event, and this is what makes it so powerful.
Any best practices to share?
Five best practices that brand marketers should keep in mind are:
1. Get Engaged: Authentic, relevant and engaging experiences are the key to successful sponsorships. Be really clear about how your brand will add value to the experience. Demonstrate this value through active audience engagement, not passive promotion.
2. Think Beyond the Event: The one-off, build-it-and-they-will-come, episodic campaign approach won’t net the kind of results it used to. Today it’s all about creating ongoing interactions with your audience that play out over time and through multiple media that release, amplify and enable the brand story. The Games are just one stop on this journey.
3. Co-create the Experience: Ask yourself: What tools am I giving my customers to create, share and entertain each other in the context of the content and brand story we’re developing?
4. Consider the Hub and Spokes: Where do you customers “go” to have the experience? A campaign microsite? A physical destination? Enroll in an SMS sweepstakes? Consider the “hub,” or the central place where the experience rests, and think about building out interactions from there as brand “spokes.”
5. Be Engaged in Real-Time: The London Olympics will be the most social ever. As second-screen behavior begins to take hold and a flood of Twitter, Facebook and other activity streams in to support the live TV experience, brands need to ready their teams to interact with, address and (most of all) be present and engaged in the conversation as it’s happening in real time.