An Olympic Challenge: Can London 2012 leave a creative legacy?

This is my first blog post for Campaign (and, in fact, ever), so I thought I’d pick a timely topic and something that’s close to our hearts.

The Olympic legacy and our youth’s participation in sport has been all over the news this week, but what will the legacy of these Olympics be?

Well they will certainly improve our salience, attract tourists, improve infrastructure and boost employment in certain industries.

Visa believes that it will inject something of the order of £750 million into the British economy.

But how will this impact the British marketing industry?

Well, we’re currently awash with briefs around the Olympics. Olympic sponsors want to fully leverage their investment; non Olympic sponsors want to make sure that they do not get left behind.

There is a problem here though. The Olympics isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea. It doesn’t quite stir the nations passions like, say, football. Now don’t get me wrong, it is the greatest and arguably still the most pure sporting property in the world, but it will really only be a really big deal for the few weeks it is on.

These weeks will be intense, emotional and romantic. We will all be watching and talking about it. They will be good weeks to be British and in Britain.

But we as marketers have to do our bit. We have to help to build the occasion and build value and interest for consumers in the run up the games (and in doing so our clients).

Also, we have to take it seriously as global platform to demonstrate to the world creative market that British creativity is capable of surprising, delighting, innovating and delivering.

It is really clear to me that emerging markets are definitely enjoying the creative opportunities that come with the combined effect of growth and confident clients. These markets also enjoy less regulation, and less procurement attention.

But Britain has a proud and long heritage as a creative capital. It has to now recognize things are always going to be more competitive and so to continue to have a strong reputation we must use the Olympics as a vehicle through to clearly differentiate what we do and what we stand for.

We need to be doing the sort of work that can be transformative to clients and work that can make a big difference without a big media budget.

For Britain to regain it’s edge as a creative powerhouse, and to match the Golds we will win at the Olympics with golds that we win in Cannes, we must start to think of creativity as ‘culture’.

The more our ideas look and feel like an important and valuable part of consumers lives the more they will look and feel like a valuable part of our clients lives. This will mean a more central role for the holy trinity of PR, digital and experiential.

It time for the cynics to think about the future and their role within it. It’s a good time to change, and it’s time for creativity in Britain to catch up with the opportunity that the Olympics will give us.

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