Going For The Gold

1 05 2011

Getting old has its privileges, among them being enough memories to fill a museum. Most of those memoris are probably not worth the neurons I used to retrieve them in the first place, but at least I am an ever-growing repository of examples for my students.

Like the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Yeah, I can still recall sitting in our basement in suburban Chicago, watching grainy black-and-white coverage from Mexico City. Thank fully, Mexico City is in the same time zone in which I grew up, so none of that middle-of-the-night coverage (although nothing beats curling as an antidote to insomnia like during the 2012 Winter Olympics in Vancouver).

But what little we saw on TV back then was pretty much it, other than even worse imagery in the next day’s newspaper. We knew the Olympics were going on, but reports were spotty at best. The notion of “real time” was still pretty new back then, and few could pull it off.

Of course, that is all different now. Global communications has made it possible for us to watch every swim stroke, every 100-meter dash, ever javelin throw. Forget about time zones. We can watch it all.

But even that is losing some of its luster, for the upcoming London 2012 Olympics are already gearing up to be the world’s largest utiliser of new media in sports yet. Never mind last year’s World Cup. That’ll pale in comparison.

A quick search of the 4 Horsemen of the Social Graph (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube) reveals a plethora of official and unofficial sites and pages already up and running, preparing us for what will no doubt be the biggest media (new and old) ever. It will be a global extravaganza the likes of which we have never seen.

And to make sure they don’t drop the ball, the Sochi 2012 Winter Olympics and Rio De Janiero 2016 Summer Olympics are already getting their social media act together as well.

And it all makes perfect sense. Let’s face it. Most of us, as in all prior Olympiads, will not be able to attend. Ticket prices plus travel expenses are not exactly cheap. But now, thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices, we can take the Olympics with us wherever we go. We need not find a telly to witness who wins the decathlon. Heck, way back in 2008, YouTube streamed 3-hours of pre-recorded Olympics content. It would not exactly be prescient to say today that we will probably be able to watch the entire 2012 Olympics live through one or more live streaming content providers next summer. In fact, just plan on it.

Which all means that the Olympics are becoming ever more a marketer’s fantasy come true. Where else could you unite the entire world and then pitch a product or service? Thus far, 46 corporations have signed on to sponsor the 2012 Olympics. And you can bet your bronze medal they’ll all launch their own Facebook pages to reinforce their brand.

As for me, I am the lucky one, for I get to teach a select group of graduate students from 15-25 May this year as we tour London and related Olympics venues. I am tasked with teaching basic sports marketing, but with a specific bent toward the Olympics and all it includes. We actually kick off our learning experience later tonight (01 May), setting the stage for what will be a whirlwind tour de force of perhaps the biggest marketing platform the world has ever seen.

And it sure beats watching that old B&W telly in 1968. I just wish we could all score some tickets and have to book a return trip. Now that would be a gold medal affair in my book.

Dr “I’m OK With The UK” Gerlich

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