Raising your business profile in 2012

2012 is set to be a busy year for the UK with six major events taking place in London between April and September. Beginning with the London Marathon and culminating with the London Paralympics in September, 2012 has the potential to be a big year for UK businesses. An estimated nine million people(1) are expected to visit London and the UK during this six month period, injecting much needed money into the UK economy and giving businesses an important boost during tough economic times.

Large events, such as the Royal Wedding, the World Cup or Summer Olympics, attract large audiences both in person and via TV broadcasts. The added attention and focus on that particular city and country opens up opportunities that businesses – especially smaller companies – would not be able to afford to create themselves.

Income generated from special events, such as the Winter and Summer Olympics, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European Championships and a Royal celebration can automatically boost the host nation’s economy due to the additional influx of tourists. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the Royal Wedding delivered an estimated £107m(2) in added business with hotels, travel agents, restaurants and souvenir retailers taking advantage of the celebrations and additional visitors to the capital. Lloyds TSB, the official banking partner of London 2012, estimated that an additional business income of between £6 billion and £10 billion will be generated, equivalent to a one per cent increase in the UK’s total gross domestic product. David Morton, a senior business manager for Lloyds TSB Business, also went on to say, “The 2012 Olympics presents a massive opportunity for thousands of businesses to raise their profile and reach new markets,”.

Of course the benefits for events and celebrations such as these are more evident for larger businesses than they are for their smaller counterparts. As companies such as Adidas, BMW, British Airways and Cadbury use their financial might and high profile to become official partners of such events, smaller businesses must find ways to increase their profile and revenue on a much smaller budget.

Rising profile
With 2012 gearing up to be a monumental year, companies throughout London and the UK should already be looking at ways to exploit the new found interest in the city and country as a whole. Many believe that these events will only benefit London, but all businesses can gain something from the flood of visitors to the country. Attractions such as theme parks, national reserves and landmarks will experience an increase in visitor numbers. In turn, this will bring in additional income for local businesses and also a greater level of awareness of the country and the diverse business opportunities available as a whole.

Entrepreneurs based outside of London that are looking to reap the benefits of free publicity will need to think outside the box. Strict guidelines have been imposed by the events governing bodies such as The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG – Olympics 2012), FIFA, Premier League and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and these strict guidelines, specifically the Olympic guidelines, have been put in place to “maintain both the emotional and commercial value of the brand” and to “prevent its unauthorised exploitation”(3). These rules, alongside special laws such as the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 (OSPA), which protects the Olympic and Paralympic symbols, mottos and various words, and the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the ‘2006 Act’) which prevents the creation of an unauthorised association between people, goods or services and London 2012, have been passed to ensure that both the event and the official sponsors’ rights are fully protected.

Guerrilla or ambush marketing
Guerrilla marketing is the term used for unconventional marketing strategies employed by companies to promote themselves in a way that creates instant buzz and doesn’t necessarily require a big budget. This form of marketing usually takes place where large numbers of people are expected to be. Businesses have also utilised the power of the internet and linked “live” guerrilla marketing to online with the use of viral marketing. By doing this, smaller campaigns have been broadcast to a much wider audience and increased awareness of brands significantly.

The IOC has defined ambush marketing of the Olympic Games as “All intentional and unintentional attempts to create a false or unauthorised commercial association with the Olympic Movement or the Olympic Games.” However, as there isn’t specific legislation that outlaws guerrilla or ambush marketing, businesses have found ways to push the boundaries to get ‘legally’ noticed while not creating an actual affiliation with the event or causing confusion over which companies actually sponsor the event.

Unconventional means
Companies have had major success utilising guerrilla marketing techniques in recent times, especially when they have tied these campaigns in with online viral marketing. The aim for any advertising or marketing campaign should be to create a lasting memory for the person that witnesses it.

Flash mobs are an extremely popular form of guerrilla marketing. These involve a large number of people congregating in a set area to enact something memorable that ties in with the product that they are endorsing. A good example of this is the T-MobileLife’s for sharing’ campaign staged in January 2010. Bringing together hundreds of dancers in London’s Liverpool Street station, this was a major success due to the additional brand awareness it brought the company (almost 30,000,000 views on YouTube to date).

Another example of flash mobs was the recent Bavaria beer campaign. Approximately 30 women wearing orange clothing sat in the same section of the stadium during the Denmark vs. Netherlands game as a stunt for the beer company. They were subsequently evicted from the stadium and Robbie Earle, a high profile football pundit, lost his job as the tickets were allegedly supplied by him. Due to the actions of FIFA and the attention brought about by this stunt, the Dutch beer company gained more publicity than expected and for a moment, took the limelight away from Budweiser, the tournament’s official beer sponsor.

There are other forms of guerrilla marketing that are less intrusive but also highly effective. By placing bill boards around London and adding a clever message, Post-it managed to tie their product in with the UK’s event of the year and send warm wishes to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Another form of guerrilla marketing that businesses have used is to create a cheap souvenir, such as a branded flag, and reproduce this in high volume resulting in high visibility for the company. This technique was famously utilised by Nike during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Handing these out free of charge to large crowds, the company’s brand was highly visible throughout the event.

Conventional avenues
Of course there are a lot of conventional ways for companies to take advantage of the additional visitors expected to arrive in London next year, such as print media and flyer distribution. But in recent times, online advertising such as search or banner adverts, have seen resurgence in popularity. Research carried out by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IABUK) and PwC showed that on a like-for-like basis, there has been a 12.8 per cent growth in UK online advertising which would equate to £1 in every £4 invested by advertisers being spent online.

Though online advertising is not regarded as highly as above the line or mass broadcast advertising, online adverts that are created with topical themes and tags can provide high visibility for businesses. By linking these adverts to industries that will see high visitor traffic, such as travel, hotel and hospitality, businesses can potentially increase their brand awareness to much higher levels.

The allure of online advertising is that it is quick to create and results are easily seen. But with an array of statistics available, companies can get too drawn into number watching and lose sight of what the campaign should achieve. Like guerrilla marketing, the success of a campaign will not be seen immediately. The bigger picture for both conventional and unconventional marketing strategies should be to create a relationship and memory for the customer, and in addition, create brand awareness amongst the widest possible audience.

Notable/sporting events 2012 and previous attendance
15 April (TBC) – London Marathon (Est. 500,000 people)

2 – 5 June – Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (Est. 1.1m people based 2011 Royal Wedding figures)

4 – 10 June (TBC) – Aegon Championships, The Queens Club (Est. 50,000 people)

Late June – early July (TBC) – Wimbledon (489,946 people – 2010)

27 July to 12 August – London 2012 (Est. 6.6m people)

29 August – 9 September – London 2012 Paralympic Games (Est. 1.5m people)


The IoD does not endorse any form of unauthorised or illegal marketing or sales activities. The information contained in this article or blog is for general information purposes only.

1 Based on estimated figures taken from like-for-like events such as the Beijing Olympics, Royal Wedding and 2010 estimated visitors figures from the London Marathon, Aegon Championships and Wimbledon Championships.

2 The economic impact of the Royal Wedding – PricewaterhouseCoopers

3 Using the brand – London 2012

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