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Are Olympic sponsors trailing the rest of the world when it comes to Mena activations?

July 21, 2012 11:00 by

Qatar’s recent failed bids to host the 2016 and 2020 Games may also contribute to a perceived lack of interest. But a closer look suggests that there is, in fact, a sig­nificant potential audience in the region. Prestige Ticketing, appointed by LOCOG to operate London 2012, has seen strong demand for tickets from the Middle East region and the UAE in particular.

Tony Barnard, marketing director points out: “This demand has been for all the main iconic Olympic events, but with a particular focus on the Opening and Clos­ing Ceremonies and equestrian events, not necessarily linked to Emirati participation.”

And Middle East broadcasters are cer­tainly committing large chunks of air-time to this summer’s Games, with Al Jazeera reportedly having applied for permission to build its Olympic studio at the very heart of London’s South Bank.

OSN, too, is set to showcase all 26 Ol­ympic sports across eight sports channels including a 24/7 Olympic news channel.

But despite an apparent consumer ap­petite for Olympic sport, as yet few of the London 2012 sponsors have really sought to engage audiences in the Middle East.

Of the top-tier worldwide partners, VISA, an Olympic partner since 1986, appears to be the most active in the region.

Its “Go World” campaign recently un­veiled a 3-D activation in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, which has rolled out across the GCC, supported by a series of BTL initiatives, PR and social media campaigns. Cardholders across the GCC have the chance to win a trip to London 2012, while 104 Olympic packages are offered by a number of Middle East banks.

Similarly, Samsung Gulf implemented a regional version of the global Torch Relay activation by selecting what it describes as “nine inspirational individuals” the opportunity to carry the Olympic Flame in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay in the UK, kicking off the Games.

In stark contrast, however, few other worldwide partners’ Olympic programmes appear to be so active; sponsors could be timing activity to coincide with the Games.

For other brands, the association with London 2012 will always remain a Euro­pean-focused marketing initiative given the geographies and budgets involved.

-By Ben Faber

*First published on Gulf Marketing Review

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