So, we’ve reached Day 14 of the Olympic Games with just the finale of the last weekend to go. It’s been an incredible few years building up to an almighty climax.
My role has seen me working at the centre of BMW Group’s London 2012 partnership over the past two and half years. It’s been fantastic and I’ll write more on the campaigns at a later date. For now I’ll focus on the Games more generally.
Of course there have been a million highlights, not least the fact Team GB have produced – if I had to isolate one thing that has driven the public’s passion, it’s surely the athletes’ performances. However, it’s not the only impact and the build-up has been vast. So, what have we learnt?
1. The public join late
After years of build-up, the nation were getting fatigued even before the Flame had been lit. But, as soon as the Torch began it’s merry way around the UK, Olympic passions were ignited.
2. Opening Ceremony
Danny Boyle created an intriguing and provoking show, celebrating the very best of British. Suddenly, a slow-burning flame turned into a fireball and the Games were well and truly alight.
3. Sport steals the show
Team GB started at a canter before ripping in to full throttle, and boy have they delivered. The last two weeks have created legends, as well as inaugurating a new generation of stars who will inspire the future of British sport. It’s the future that will be the key legacy discussion point after the Games and this is the open door for brands to step through. Many will try and only a few will prevail.
4. Brands build experiences
A lot has been documented about brands and their involvement in the Games. It’s clear the Games wouldn’t happen without partners’ support and the best brands have created some incredible touchpoints that have genuinely improved the experience, both in venues and across the UK. Look at the Live experiences, such as BA’s Park Live in the Olympic Park, BT’s London Live on Hyde Park and the live sites in major cities around the UK, being great examples. At a more intimate level, take a look at the mini MINIs, retrieving javelins, hammers and discuses in the Olympic Stadium, and just ask around for the number of people that want one. Brands play a huge role in the delivery of the games: financially, operationally and by adding creativity and experiences that help make the entire Olympic Movement in some way ‘better’.
5. London and the UK can do it
After years of question marks from the media and some members of the public, of course we delivered. Surely it was never in doubt. It’s been a mammoth task no doubt, but the greatest show on Earth just got even greater.
6. We found optimism
The biggest surprise to many is the surge in public pride and positive outlook that has swept the nation. I’ve been on the Tube with people talking, had people going out of the their way to help me and even seen security guards being friendly. Unheard of. The news agenda hasn’t just been dominated by sport, it has been just sport, which is massively refreshing…a small part of me is missing our sarcastic spirit, though.
7. Olympic Houses have been disappointing
Much was hyped about the experiences at the nations’ houses that have popped up all over London. I’ve managed to get to quite a few and despite the odd very good party, I’ve been pretty underwhelmed. The majority have that sterile airport lounge feel about them, with little in the way of culture or excitement. Of course, there is the odd exception, but maybe it’s because London is already blessed with art and culture from all corners of the globe? The Mayor and the GLA have done a fabulous job with different events, including projections and light sequences on many of London’s key landmarks, but I fear not enough people know about them.
Just some early reflections on what has been the best few weeks of my working life and…if Wales hadn’t won a Grand Slam recently, it could have been the best ever at a personal level too.
Enjoy the last few days and make the most of this time.
By Ben Wilkinson on August 10th, 2012