Sunday 25 September 2016

AdLib: How marketers can help Olympic ideal

Michael Cullen

Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30

Electric Ireland, the proud sponsors of Ireland’s Olympians
Electric Ireland, the proud sponsors of Ireland’s Olympians
This season’s official brand ambassador, Connacht club captain John Muldoon, with teammates Kieran Marmon and Denis Buckley at a Mazda photocall

Team Ireland returned from Rio with the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) brand badly tarnished. The Games had promised good news stories for marketers wishing to connect with consumers through the power of sport, but the good headlines were few and far between.

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As Ger Tannam of branding agency Islandbridge says, while many of the athletes are professional, the Olympics continue to be one of the world's last major events where amateur ideals hold firm. For Team Ireland, the currency of the Olympics is not - as some might suggest - gold, silver and bronze, but rather a chance to rival the best of the world's best.

For them, Tannam says, participation is the prize. For brands like Electric Ireland, the currency is invaluable, underpinned by the gold standard of fairness. But when that standard is debased, much of the Olympics' value for brand partners is lost.

"For too long now, the Olympic movement has sent mixed messages to the world about its values," Tannam says. "The scandals which elbowed the stories of proud feats aside reflects an organisation which serves too many masters at the expense of its greatest resource, the Olympians."

Yet, he adds, it's obvious from the public reaction that Olympic ideals still prevail.

However, the world body entrusted with guarding the ideal appears conflicted. Their words and deeds - and all too often their silence - reflects a divided movement. Sadly, too few international brands are showing the leadership needed to help restore the currency of the Olympics as the world's top sports tournament. "Recent events would suggest money speaks loudest for some people," Tannam added.

He says marketers must exert influence on how the money is spent throughout the Olympic movement. Like Speedo cutting its ties to Ryan Lochte after the US swimmer embellished a 'robbery' story in Rio. Speedo donated part of Lochte's $50k fee to Save the Children in Brazil. Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal and mattress maker Airweave soon followed in dumping Lochte.

Tannam sings the praises of Cawley Nea\TBWA's press ads for Bank of Ireland proclaiming they remain in boxer Katie Taylor's corner.

But some people in adland would say the choice of the 'Class is permanent' headline was a little unfortunate, given the word association with a rival bank.

* The number of Irish adults with Twitter accounts has dipped, latest figures from Ipsos MRBI's Omnipoll indicates. The survey puts Twitter at 26pc overall, down from 30pc in May last year, while one in three use it every day, down 3pc. There was no change in Facebook accounts among Irish adults over the last few months, with a 64pc rating and 74pc using it daily.

Instagram accounts stand at 23pc, up from 19pc this time last year. Just over half of them use Instagram each day.

Pinterest is used by 16pc, up from 14pc in the last year, with one in ten using it daily. Ipsos MRBI also conducts a social messaging tracker. It shows Facebook Messenger is the most popular platform for Irish adults at 53pc. One in two use WhatsApp, 44pc Skype and 39pc Viper. Snapchat usage is up by 6pc over the past year and now stands at 28pc.

Of these, 67pc of account owners use it every day, compared to WhatsApp's 58pc and Facebook Messenger's 55pc.

Sponsorship consultant and Mick McCarthy's former agent Liam Gaskin has confirmed his Emerge Marketing Communications agency was paid a performance bonus for its work on the Limerick City of Culture (LCC) project. It is understood the agency received €25k in a legal settlement with the organisers, on top of the agency's agreed fee of €30k.

LCC, which cost €10.9m to stage, had problems in securing a title sponsor following negative media coverage when two senior executives resigned. A total of 25 sponsors signed up to LCC, providing €1.23m in funds, with just three sponsors paying over €100k. The project earned an 82pc "very favourable" or "mainly favourable" public rating.

* Staying with sponsorship, Mazda continues its support of Guinness Pro12 rugby champions Connacht. The car brand has been involved with the province as both title and official car sponsor for the past six years.

Mazda is to host a Connacht rugby clinic for youngsters in Carton House, Co Kildare, on October 9. Elverys Intersport is Connacht's shirt sponsor.

Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: cullen@marketing.ie

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