I couldn’t have been more excited for Glasgow 2014. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time working for clients in Glasgow. It’s a special, special place, and I very quickly grew to love it and it’s people. I had no doubt that Glasgow would stage a great Games, and that the city and it’s people will be stars of the show.
This is the third edition of the Commonwealth Games in the UK that I’ve worked on: the first two created some vivid, and highly contrasting, memories.
In 1986 I was working at the Mirror Group, and became part of the team responsible for delivering the Mirror’s last-minute sponsorship of the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. The Mirror sponsorship positioned Mirror owner Robert Maxwell and the Mirror Group as coming to the rescue of the Games, which was already in a financial crisis subsequently compounded by a boycott by over half of the Commonwealth countries in protest at the UK’s links with apartheid South Africa. It’s difficult to argue that the promotional and organisational momentum Maxwell brought to the Games saved it from humiliation. But the reality was that it was an aggressive takeover – arguably the biggest ambush marketing job in history – which was, like most things at the Mirror, a vehicle for Maxwell backed by empty financial promises.
This is the definitive article on Maxwell and Edinburgh ’86, by Brian Oliver, extracted from his forthcoming book on the Commonwealth Games. Some of the stories in there may sound incredible, but I can assure you that they’re true – I was there for most of them, and more besides (such as the time he invaded the track during the Opening Ceremony). Working for Maxwell on Edinburgh ’86 was often chaotic and surreal, but it taught me very valuable lessons about sponsorship – both how to do it and how not to do it – which I still use today.
Fast forward sixteen years to Manchester 2002, a very different Games and Games experience, but with, for me at least, one similarity to Edinburgh ’86; another sponsorship of the Commonwealth Games by a media company, in this case the Guardian Media Group (GMG). But it could not have been more different to the Mirror’s.
By this time I was at Synergy (or Karen Earl Sponsorship as it was then known) and we advised and led the delivery of GMG’s Manchester 2002 sponsorship, which was an award-winning success. GMG’s print and digital media provided vital support and promotion for the Games; showcased GMG’s diverse media titles; demonstrated GMG’s commitment to and historic links with Manchester; and also provided a highly successful internal platform to build GMG employee pride and engagement, an area in which Synergy continues to specialise today.
And of course, unlike Edinburgh 1986, Manchester 2002 was hailed by all as a huge success, in particular in showcasing and accelerating Manchester’s transformation, delivering tangible legacies, and confounding the sceptics by showing the world that the UK could successfully stage a major multi-sport event – in many ways paving the way for London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Fast forward to Glasgow 2014, which Synergy has been working on for SSE, the Games’ first Tier One sponsor, since last year. You can find out all about the SSE Glasgow 2014 sponsorship here and here, and get involved with the SSE GoGlasgow campaign here by tweeting your support for one of the home nations teams by using either #GoEngland, #GoNI, #GoScotland or #GoWales.
By Tim Crow on July 23rd, 2014