TKFLASTANI Terrence Burns is back to discuss how sports marketers don’t get the Olympic brand. Terrence is the Owner, Chairman & CEO of T. Burns Sports Group, LLC, which does sports marketing, sponsorship sales/negotiation/strategy, bidding advisory services, and brand & communications development.
In Paris 2024 news (timely, given our show topic), the International Olympic Committee–and Team USA–have a new sponsor in the form of InBev. This mark’s the IOC’s first beer sponsor….and as you may recall, Paris 2024 will not be selling alcohol in any stadium. Never fear though, because Corona Cero is here!
The French kit has arrived! Check it out here and see if you agree with our take on it.
The post-Games plans to sell some of the Athletes’ Village apartments are not going well–we have the latest on how low the prices are going.
The Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon is starting up this week, and one of its innovations is a digital flame. Jill’s thoughts on it turn out to be fightin’ words in Alison’s world.
And in news from TKFLASTAN, we hear from:
- Pole vaulter Katie Moon
- Nordic combined racer Annika Malacinski
- Bobsledder Josh Williamson
- Breakdancer Sunny Choi
- Author Andrew Maraniss
- Speed skater Erin Jackson
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Terrence Burns.
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.
The Future of Olympic Branding with Terrence Burns (Episode 320)
Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week, we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.
Alison, hello, how are you?
Alison: I have discovered the way one country is going to cause us even further problems. Oh, what, what is this? Okay, so I’ve been watching the European Figure Skating Championships, which has been fantastic, but this is the first time I’ve heard them say Czechia. Instead of the Czech Republic.
Now this was a change that we had come across that the IOC had, I assume the Czech Republic requested this. They are now referred to officially as Czechia. We were still calling it Czechoslovakia every once in a while. And we can’t do this now because we have our Czech friend, Michael, that we made in Beijing and I would never want to insult him.
We had such a great time together at the hockey arena. And Czechia is not difficult to say. It rolls off the tongue. I know, I know I’m gonna say Chechnya one time by mistake, so let me preemptively apologize to the Czech people. I love you and I am trying so hard.
Jill: I will not put it past myself to slide in an accidental Czechia, Slovakia or Czechia.
Alison: And this year we’re doing Chamonix and we’ve started to record those Chamonix history shows. I’m so excited to share those with everybody. But there’s a lot of Czechoslovakia coming up in the research as well.
Jill: Oh, this is going to be fun.
Terrence Burns Interview
Okay. So today we’ve got some news about a new sponsor for the IOC and Team USA, which is pretty timely, which is pretty timely given our main conversation for this week. We’re welcoming back Shukla Stani Terrence Burns to discuss how sports marketers don’t get the Olympic brand.
Terrence, as you remember, is the owner, chairman, and CEO of T Burns Sports Group, LLC, which does sports marketing, sponsorship, sales, negotiation, and strategy. Bidding advisory services and brands and communications development. In previous roles, he was the senior vice president of marketing at Meridian Management, which was the IOC’s external marketing agency.
And he worked at the Delta and he worked at Delta Airlines for a number of years in a variety of roles, one of which was managing Delta sponsorship of Atlanta 1996, take a listen to our conversation with Terrence. Terrence, welcome back. It’s so great to have you back on the show.
Terrence Burns: It is a pleasure to be back. Nice to see you.
Jill: You’ve been talking to students and teaching a lot about the Olympic brand and its marketing. How’s the brand doing these days?
Terrence Burns: The brand’s been here for, what, 3, 000 years since its third millennium.
I sometimes have to remind people of that. It’s been through ups and downs. the foundation of the brand is healthy, strong, universal. It’s unifying people are still investing in it. So I think it’s great. I really do think it’s great.
Jill: What types of classes are you teaching right now?
Terrence Burns: It’s around the Olympic brand, why it’s different, why it matters. And it talks about… The philosophical core of the brand, the ethos of the brand, frankly, marketers often get it wrong and they think they’ve invested in a sports marketing brand. It’s not a sports marketing brand.
it’s a human brand. It’s a humanity brand that has aspects of sport in it. I tell students the Olympic brand really isn’t about sport. Sports the vehicle that takes us to these universal values that we all love. sO it talks about that from a business perspective, because I’m talking to business students, BBAs and MBAs.
We talk a lot really about what’s going on in the world of investment in sport today which some people like to call sport washing. If it comes from one country, it’s called brilliant marketing. If it comes from another country, we talk about maybe the hypocrisy in that, depending on what your lens is.
and we look at people woke up a little bit as well, but mostly it’s around the Olympics, what it is, what it means, how to market it. And then a lot about what’s happening in football in Saudi or in the Middle East, et cetera, you know, general stuff that’s going on today. It’s timely that this is all happening right in the middle of live golf and World Cup in Saudi and 34, et cetera.
So it’s very timely for the students. So they really enjoy it. And then we end up with about an hour of. Entrepreneuring. everybody wants to be one until they figure out how hard it is to be one. But it’s really about some life lessons and business lessons that I’ve learned along the way.
Alison: So you’re dealing with a lot of kids in their 20s, I’m assuming, and what is their impression of the Olympic brand?
Terrence Burns: It’s fascinating with the MBA students are a little bit older and some of them have already worked a little bit, but the 21 to 22 year olds. To be honest, the relevance for the Olympics is not there yet for them.
And when I was that age, it was different. You know, the games happened every four years, both of them together. It was a more of a geopolitical thing with the Soviet Union, etc. So, and I think 22 year olds obviously have… A multitude of entertainment choices at their fingertips that we didn’t have 40 years ago when I was their age So it goes is they’re kind of quirkily interested in it.
They choose this class They have to take one of three or four classes to graduate. It’s called a senior seminar at Emory University, because what a business school, it’s 10 hours. So I do two, I do four, two and a half hour courses because I live in Nashville. So they let me drive down and do it that way.
so it’s kind of interesting. And I asked day one, why are you here? What do you want to learn in this? And mostly I think it’s, they’re just curious because of the header and the syllabus that I wrote for it that they get to read online. So I watch, 25 kids go from mildly interested to board to being passionate evangelists in about the first 2.
5 hours. I like every consumer and I’ve been doing this For a long time lecturing. Once you explain it to them and why it’s different, say then NFL or NBA or formula one or champions league, or even world cup, and those are all wonderful, wonderful sports brands. And once I explained the difference in the Olympic brand, what’s fascinating is for this particular Gen Z ish segment.
Their eyes light up and they say, why didn’t we know about this? this is Taylor built for us. We’re the generation that doesn’t believe just in profits. We believe in doing good for the world. We believe in things that should push the world forward and be about universality. And we didn’t know anything.
We’ve never heard anything from an Olympic sponsor, from the IOC, from whomever about this. How do we find out more about it? How do we learn more about it? We didn’t even know the Olympics were in L. A. Well, L. A. hasn’t really started promoting. It’s not L. A. ‘s fault. So I just find it always refreshing and rewarding, like I did working with bid committees every two years, that I was dunked into this river of, I don’t know, naivete, which always washed the jadedness out of me and the cynicism out of me.
And I was around people who were seeing it fresh for the first time and really… We’re ingesting it for the first time. I love it. I think it’s fantastic. And it just proves to me that that segment everybody says the IOC has lost the Gen Zs. They’ve lost a generation. Well, not if you explain it to them.
Absolutely not. If you explain it to them. And by the end of the 10 hour course, they’re wanting to know how do I get a job in it? Where do I go? Can you, can I send you my CV and, on and on and on and on. And I think it’s just. Yeah. Just shows the power of the brand, how it breaks through.
How it is different from the other sports brands. Not better, just different. That’s what we do in branding. We talk about differentiation not a pejorative. This is better or that’s worse.
Alison: Do you think that it’s not breaking through because There’s a lack of information on the Olympics available or because there’s just too much information in general about entertainment and sports.
Terrence Burns: I personally believe that the Olympic bodies sometimes have forgotten why they’re different and how to express that. And I, if you look at a series of things from so called scandals to choosing cities that are problematic, and God knows I’ve been in the middle of that for 20 years, to an inability to articulate just what I just said.
think about the IOC, for example, they have what, 14 top partners. And then there’s 206 national Olympic committees around the world. They all have sponsors. There’s three or four OCOGs in the world at any given time. They have sponsors. There’s what, seven or eight broadcasters on a global basis that really matter.
They have relationships. none of those people are singing off the same song sheet in terms of values and the unique proposition that the Olympics brings to the world. Now, 25 years ago, we did that with the IOC when I worked there and we did the first one. I do sound like the old gray haired man in the corner, but it.
It worked. we were able to brief all of our commercial partners. If you add all of those people up, their budget to promote and market the Olympic game and values is exponentially bigger than the IOCs or LA 28s or Paris 28s, whatever. It’s just, I mean, that’s, that’s the method and the madness. If you have all these commercial partners, then you better brief them on why the Olympics is different, why it matters, and how You can associate your brand with the Olympic movement.
We also did research clearly consumers around the world that love the Olympics clearly were a little uncomfortable with commercial association with the games. So that’s not surprising, probably still the same. I wouldn’t know, haven’t seen any research lately, but those same consumers also said three things.
A, if you tell us why you’re, involved with the Olympics as a company, we’ll support you. B, show us how that investment is keeping the Olympics going. Something we love, we’ll support you. And the final one, we’ve just told you a list of attributes and values that matter to us. By the way, none of those were sporting terms.
I could show you the 30 words or the 15 words that matter most to consumers around the world as it pertains to the Olympics. You would be stunned that none of those are sporting words. They’re universal values. So consumers said, tell us why. Tell us what you’re doing, why you’re doing it. By the way, use these values and attributes that we just told you are important to us and we’ll buy your cheeseburger.
We’ll buy your can of cola. We’ll buy your insurance policy. Well, buy your tires, your car, whatever it is you’re selling. it’s not complicated, to be honest with you, but it is something that has to be consistently reinforced because the turnover and the change in the Olympic movement, as you know, with OCOG, OCOG is quite consistent.
And even the change within the IOC itself Is not consistent. It’s not inconsistent. So, it’s something you can’t take for granted. You have to make that part and parcel of your marketing and promotional efforts as an Olympic entity. you have to just beat it and beat it and beat it into your commercial partners because they will typically being uneducated and unexperienced in it, they’ll revert to, kind of trite and predictable creative.
That doesn’t break through the wallpaper. So, back to this class. it’s really relevant to them as future marketing and or business people that might want to be in the sports world. This concept of your brand and I, I tell them, I don’t care what business you’re in, if it’s Airbnb or if it’s Apple or if it’s Bridgestone or whomever, whatever you make or sell, it can be duplicated.
The only thing that cannot be duplicated is your brand, your brand and its values and what it stands for. No one can duplicate that. They can try, but they can’t, but kind of everything else. It’s a product or a service. Someone is out there making something that , mimics it, or tries to appropriate it.
but they can’t duplicate the brand. So protect that brand. That’s the biggest asset that you have. And it’s not even on the ballot sheet. What’s the value of Apple’s brand on a ballot sheet? Or Coke’s, or Airbnb’s, or Intel’s? You tell me. I don’t know. But it’s there. So that’s, that’s it.
That’s the genesis of it. But in the Olympic context.
Alison: So what specifically in terms of values do you find attracts these students of this much younger age?
Terrence Burns: the universality of it. The fact that it is not based on profit. It’s based on progress of the human condition. They had no idea that the IOC Puts four million dollars a day, every day, every year into amateur sport on a global basis.
No one knows that. The SE doesn’t talk about it. They try to every once in a while, but it comes out in a talking point, in a PR construct, etc. There’s not a program built around that. There’s not an educational component built around that. They just think they take in all this money and then they go to the games and they stay in five star hotels and gosh, aren’t they terrible?
They’re terrible. There’s a different story to tell around the games and the entities that manage the games. So they loved that. They loved that it had a historical perspective, dating back to 776 B. C. They had no idea. They loved some of the selfless stories of athletes who, participating honorably and well was as important or more so than winning.
they’re not used to, to a win at all cost. A win at all cost attitude in sport is normal now, and frankly, it’s normal in everything we do. They’re not used to a brand whose core precept from decouperton was, you know, the objective isn’t to win, it’s to struggle well, just like as it is in life.
So I think there was a lot of affirmation in it for young people who understood that things like friendship And honor and doing your best are as important or more important than making a lot of money or winning at all costs. And I showed them the research. I said, there are only three countries in the world where the word winning shows up in.
Word association with the Olympic brand. Not surprisingly, it’s the United States, Russia and China everywhere else, the word winning. If you say, give me the first five words that pop in your mind when you think of the word Olympics, nowhere else in the world does the word winning even show up in those three countries.
It’s kind of obvious how and why they do. So they were fascinated in that. And they liked that. I took something as Maybe obscure and emotional sometimes is the Olympics and brought it into a business context. And so we’re just going to talk about this from a business perspective. And how do you go to market with it?
And how do you take the brand apart? What are its core components? And how does that work in a business in the business world? If you were. Given the Olympics to manage, how would you do it?
Alison: What are some of those words that come up when you talk to other countries? I’m just curious.
Terrence Burns: Well, there’s a plethora of them.
and what we did was we distilled and boiled those down to four brand positionings back in the day. And they’ve been now distilled down to three. The most powerful word to me that they don’t use anymore was called, uh, it’s called hope and hope. By the way. Was not a word that came up in the word association exercise that we did in 10 countries around the world.
And I’m talking about research, it’s fairly dated, but I guarantee you it’s not dissimilar if you did it today. And I remember being in a brand focus group in Senegal. And, this young man stood up and he said, the Olympics are, I’m listening through the translators in French, he said, the Olympics are about hope.
And I kind of looked up, because I hadn’t heard the word hope yet at any of the focus groups, and it certainly wasn’t in a qualitative way done. And the moderator said, well, what do you mean it’s about hope? And he looked through that piece of glass that he couldn’t see me, but I could see him. I swear to you, he was looking right in my eyes.
And he said, look at me, I’m an African, I’m black, I’m poor, no one gives a damn. But when I watch the Olympic Games and I see a Senegalese athlete next to a white American or a Western European, and he said it just like this, he looked up, he said, I know that in the eyes of the Lord, I’m as good as they are.
I’m as good as they are. And that gives me hope. That was, it hit me like a gut punch. we were about halfway into this year long process, and we were trying to figure out, these technical, mechanical, marketing things to say. And there it was, from one individual. The Olympics do give you hope.
And you watch 17 days where 10, 500 kids from everywhere in the world get along, make lifelong friendships. That gives you hope. If you do it for six, 17 days, maybe 18, maybe 19, maybe a month, etc. And I think also… I did those in two different classes. So the first class was before the Israeli Gaza conflict, and then last week is obviously in the middle of it, or after it started.
So the tenor had changed and, the conversation was affected by what was going on. And if anything else, those kids took strength from it. And they said, We’ve been thinking about what you said, last month in the course of what’s happened since then. And you’re right.
Maybe we need the Olympics now more than ever. It is the only thing that 206 countries on the planet agree to. I mean, it’s, it is the only thing that Trump wants to be there. Biden wants to be there. Putin wants to be there. Xi wants to be there. North Korea wants to be there. It’s the only thing that everybody can kind of agree upon.
so it is this very powerful movement that is based in sport, but it’s not about sport. It’s about us. It’s about celebrating humanity.
Jill: When the students figure out that the Olympics is different, do they want to take those elements and put them into other sports?
Terrence Burns: I think there are elements of the Olympics in every sport. I mean, certainly baseball, softball, I mean, football, everything you learn here in the States as a kid, or even soccer in Europe, etc.,
or whatever, they do teach things about teamwork, and relying on each other, and everybody’s got a role to play, and honesty, and following the rules. Yeah, I think a lot of that stuff’s transferable. , but what makes the games, I think, different from them is if you look at the Olympic Charter and if you can’t sleep tonight, get a, download a copy of the Olympic Charter and start reading it, you will nod off pretty quickly, but it is a powerful document and read those fundamental principles of Olympism and read the one that says what the Olympics are really about.
It’s to better mankind by placing sport. for all for all of us. as you know, it began as a peace movement. The Coubertin actually recreated the modern movement as an instrument of peace, not sport. He was what you would call a peacenik back then, back in the day. So it’s it’s a very different ethos and a very different perspective.
It’s in game is quite different from any other sport a because it’s not a sport. It’s The combination of sports, and it’s usually not teams against teams, like the World Cup, which is beautiful and exciting to watch, but in the Olympics, more often than not, it’s one kid against another kid from somewhere you’ve never heard of, maybe in a sport you’re not even familiar with, so it brings it down to a very personal level, and I think it does celebrate it.
It’s great. It celebrates the thing we have and things that we have in common, as opposed to the opposite.
Alison: How do you think the IOC could respond better to the generational change? There was a lot of talk about, we’re going to put these younger sports, these urban sports in as a response. Brand wise and direction wise, what would be a better option, in your opinion?
Terrence Burns: I don’t know if it’s a better option.
I know they’ve tried, you know, they’re very smart people in Lausanne, very capable people in Lausanne, in the administration. They’ve tried everything from the Youth Olympic Games to putting breakdancing in Paris rock climbing, surfing, those are all functional things, not emotional things, and I think that young people relate.
Less to that than more to being inspired those things, whether they will work or not. I don’t know. Maybe. The IOC don’t really have to reinvent anything to be more relevant to young people. They just need to speak to them in words that they understand and will inspire them. And I think it gets back to and to inspiring them.
They’ve got all the content you could ever need that exists in, the Olympic world. If you go back and look at that very first brand campaign we did for them, Celebrate Humanity, we actually hired the exact same creative team that did Think Different for Steve Jobs and Apple, TPWHI Day in LA. And I remember doing the briefing.
I remember working, with them and as did our entire team. And they got it quite quickly and wrote a series of spots, and I showed these spots to 22 year olds today, 25 years later, and they were, some were in tears and moved, and they said, why have we never seen this? Well, that’s a whole nother discussion around NBC and Dick Ebersol, who wouldn’t play it in, in, in the United States, because it had Robin Williams voice on it, and Robin Williams did not want NBC to have a promotional, uh, Message on his piece and he did.
He did those spots for free for us. So it was just complicated. It’s not that hard and talking about the values, what they how they matter to humanity and how sport is really just a vehicle to get us to loving each other more. I mean, that’s all lofty stuff, but it works. It’s absolutely true. And I’m not picking on a McDonald’s here, but When they were a sponsor, they probably struggled a little bit with the property and how to best market it.
And I remember receiving a print campaign with five cheeseburgers in the shape of the rings. And, um, obviously it wasn’t on brand. Obviously to McDonald’s they were quite proud of it and thought it was on brand for them. and it caused a lot of problems.
And I would have to fly to Oak Brook, Illinois and meet with them and their CMOs and all their brand people. And they would get very defensive. Are you saying our product isn’t any good? Are you saying we’re not good enough? You know, it was a difficult conversation that it was one of those things that you could just see that that didn’t really push the brand forward.
But from their point, it did. But once we went through this brand work and showed them how consumers related to the brand, what expected from the brand. We never got another cheeseburger ad again. In fact, McDonald’s did some beautiful work back in those days before they, uh, finally, finally left the program ‘ cause they got it.
And I think the IOC struggle sometimes in light of all of the other functional challenges that they have as an organization. The size and scope and the breadth of the games have gotten quite complicated. The geopolitical pictures have gotten quite complicated, not just recently, but,, for the last 15 years, and I think they would do themselves a great service to go back. Like, I told my students at the day when you get confused. Go back to the basics, whatever it is, whether it’s a relationship, whether it’s your business or whether it’s cutting your what it’s painting your house. When you get you complicated, you’re gonna mess it up.
So just go back to the basics. So they’ve got all of the basics there. They don’t need to recreate. They don’t need to have, pardon me, you know, Taylor Swift come in and become a spokesperson. That’s, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the message itself and the values themselves.
They’re quite powerful. And I think I would like to see a return to that in their communication efforts, but I think they also have to better educate their commercial partners. So they’re amplifying those messages. It’s not just the IOC trying to do it, because they don’t really have a budget, a communications budget, nor does LA, nor does Paris, nor does Milan Cortina.
To be honest, OCOGs don’t have a lot of money to throw at it, but their commercial partners do. So if you’ve got all of these companies going to market every day with intellectual property from the Olympics, why in the heck aren’t they on brand message? They’re not because they haven’t been educated.
You know, there’s a difference between rights, what we used to do, which was marks approval when you get it, when you get a campaign in from visa. And you’ve got television campaign, back in the days you have print, you have online, et cetera, radio even sometimes. Does it meet the Mark’s graphic standards and guidelines?
So I’m like making sure that this logo is far enough away from their brand or they’re using the word Olympic in the right context. If it gets down to just that mechanical thing. that’s what sponsors expect you to do. When you start weighing in on their creative, they get really defensive and aggressive because they’re paying hundreds of millions of dollars.
I think the best ones were when you were in part of that creative process, when you were able to say, it’s not really resonating from a brand perspective from us. And until we did that work and said, here is our blank brand architecture, here’s how it works. And here’s a. Here’s not only a 20 page deck.
I’ll come and give you two days of my time with your creative team and we’ll walk through it. You know, that does take time. It takes effort. Multiply that times 15 partners. Then multiply that times three organizing committees, etc. It takes time and effort. So, you know, beefing up that brand practice within the Olympic bodies would behoove them.
And it would make better commercial partners, which would make the consistency of the message. Much more efficient, much more impactful, and young people would get it.
Jill: What do you see sponsors doing or not doing ahead of Paris 2024? Because I would say that this is kind of a big Olympics, given that the last three were in Asia and the last two were under COVID. So I can see how, I can see how the students would be like, I, we don’t really know what the Olympics are, what they really mean.
I can totally understand that because we’ve had
Terrence Burns: Especially their age, right? Yeah, exactly.
Well, that’s a long conversation. That’s a sponsorship discussion. Wise Olympic sponsors understand. You got to get out early. You got to be consistent. You got to build your program over whatever period of time it is where you’re building a crescendo up to the games.
You don’t want to peak too early. And it’s done, and I think oftentimes you could, especially at the organizing committee level, companies who have never done this before and will never do it again in a generation. Let’s put it that way, because Delta did it in 30 years ago with me. They did it in 2002, and they’re going to do it again in 2020.
So they’ve done it, coming up on three times. But most companies, it’s a one and done and they don’t really understand what they have and they don’t really understand that this thing has a deadline. It’s coming. And when it’s over, you don’t get a second shot at it. You’re done. You just done.
So the best sponsors A, work hard to create a very differentiated message from the other sponsors, because you’re going to be a little bit of Olympic wallpaper as you get closer to the Games. And everybody is going to be saying the same things with the same creative. You watch it, Games. It’s interesting.
It’s like the Super Bowl or the Olympics. When they’re over, you guys will all get back together and we’ll remember one ad. We’ll remember one campaign. Because it got it. And typically, frankly, for the last few years, that’s been P& G. Thank you, mom. Because they got it. Now, the flip side of that to me, the tragedy of that is, that’s only one that I can think of.
The rest of it was just predictable, boring, Olympic esque campaigns of using an athlete, talking about some company’s product or service. What did I say earlier? Consumers want to know, why are you a sponsor? Tell us a story. Tell us why you’re doing it. Tell us, show us how what you’re doing impacts this thing that we love.
And then do it using the values that we’ve told you are important to us. And when you understand that, and you have the time, you have enlightened leadership, and you have a great marketing department that knows how to brief an agency, because bad advertising really often isn’t the agency’s priority.
fault. It’s, it’s the brand’s fault. You don’t know how to brief, don’t have a briefing agency. So start early, be differentiated, be consistent, carve out something that you can own as a sponsor and think about P& G. They looked at sponsors who’d been around forever. Coke’s been around since 1928.
And they said, you know, what do we do that we can own that’s emotional that no one else can say legitimately and somehow they found they hit on this. Most basic thing on the planet. Everybody has a mom. We can all relate to mothers. Let’s put that in an Olympic context. They don’t even talk about their products and services until the very end.
The very end, it’s a fade out. It just shows like 10 brands. And it says, Thank you, Mom. Beautiful. It’s perfect. They’re telling you a story using Olympics, Olympians. That’s how you do it. That’s exactly how you do it. And the other thing I will tell any sponsor, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.
Metrics are really important at that level of expenditure for Olympic sponsors today. If you’re paying 200 million to be a sponsor, And you pay a one to one ratio, another 200 to be activated. That’s half a billion dollars for a four year deal. And you can’t tell your board of directors what you’re getting out of it.
Hell, they could take a half a billion dollars and put it in R& D, M& A. Hell, they could put it in T bills and know what their return’s going to be. So I think the urgency and the pressure to be able to measure what you’re doing, the efficacy of what you’re doing has changed from 20, 30 years ago as well because the expenditure levels are so much higher.
The other thing I think that sponsors don’t do well is they don’t understand at the very beginning, if you are considering to be an Olympic sponsor and you have this set of rights and benefits. Which are very unique and in the quote sports world because of what they don’t have.
You don’t have media. You don’t have venue signage. You don’t have athletes. You got to buy all of that stuff. You don’t have rooms and tickets. You’ve got to buy all of that stuff. It’s a cover charge. It’s basically a cover charge to get into the party. If you want a drink, it’s going to cost you some more money.
If you want a hamburger, it’s going to cost you some more money. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So, New sponsors need to understand, given this set of rights and benefits that exist in an Olympic sponsorship, can I adapt them to fit our existing business strategy? Most brands have a revenue goal, brand goal, quality goal, whatever those metrics are in your 3000 foot business strategy.
If you can’t fit the Olympics to it, then don’t do it. And I’ve seen sponsors who will remain unnamed who get into this and they don’t know how to, not only not know how to fit it to their existing strategies, they create a whole new business strategy. So they’re taking money away from the core business and marketing efforts, putting into this thing called the Olympics, which they don’t know how to measure, et cetera.
So no one’s served by that. No one is served by that. And I think the Olympic parties have, as again, going back a long time ago, when we were created to do that, we took the business away from ISL because they weren’t doing that. They were a sales organization. We were a marketing organization. So our job was to literally sit in our sponsors marketing departments for months and help them, try to help them make sure they were doing these things, sometimes to, and sometimes to a greater and sometimes to a lesser, in game some sponsors, once you’re helping some, some don’t, let’s just put it that way. So it’s a very complicated, expensive exercise. It’s not for everybody, but I do think the Olympic parties. Have an obligation to their commercial partners to explain to them what you’re buying. How do you use it?
How do consumers relate to it? And can we help you and your agencies create a program that works for all of us? I’m not sure. I’m not sure that’s the North Star for Olympic entity marketing departments these days. I think it’s about revenue, and I understand that and respect it. I understand you’ve got to have revenue.
I get it. But you gotta have sponsors who Or creating an environment where more companies will want to participate in the Olympics going forward.
Alison: There’s a part of me that wants to ask about Mike and Maya, but I know that’s going to take us in the totally wrong direction.
Jill: Well, wait, now.
DUring Tokyo, because we’ve streamed most everything, they showed the same commercials all the time. And so Tokyo showed, , had the Toyota first date commercial with Mike and Maya and we just got obsessed with it for the podcast and talked about it every day of the show. What would we, and we made up all these things about the two characters.
And to this day, we said somebody else in another commercial was one of their parents. And every time I see this actor on a commercial, I’m like, Oh, that’s Maya’s father. And then I realized, no, it’s not. It’s something I made up in my head. Talk about a
Alison: story. We became obsessed with this commercial actually because of the story it told.
And then we took that story to levels of insanity, but. We do still remember it’s the Toyota commercial and what they were selling.
Terrence Burns: Yeah. Isn’t that a, isn’t that what we just were talking about? They literally. Didn’t show you an athlete in slow motion, swimming through the water with heroic music and some inane writing about how we share the same values as athletes that, you know, wake me up when it’s over, they brought you in with an emotional story could be personality based like that when it could be much broader, like, thank you, moms, etc.
That’s great storytelling and human beings. CNN and Fox and all the rest of them started as people sitting around a fire telling stories about 60, 000 years ago. Stories are how we relate to each other. It’s how cultures are built. It’s how your family survives. So, I mean, great advertising is great storytelling. And goodness, if you can’t figure out the wealth of material in the Olympic world and its history and its values, how to tell a great story around it, Without sounding tired and like everyone else, then you need to go back to the drawing board.
But it is odd that those examples are so rare, isn’t it? When it actually should be ten great ads competing for your attention with all of this emotional, universal values that we all understand. The cool thing about the Olympics, unlike a brand or another service, You don’t have to explain anything. I don’t have to tell you what the latest Apple update for my iPhone means for you.
It doesn’t matter. You know what I’m saying? I don’t have to tell you what the newest Samsung, laptop will do, or the latest Bridgetone tire will do. I don’t have to… You know, they have to do that. But in the Olympics, everybody gets it. Everybody gets it because it’s simple.
I’m telling you, the research that we did, and I’m sure the Odyssey’s current research says the same thing, at least half of the people that we talked to around the world who said, I love the Olympics, aren’t sports fans. Don’t even watch sports. But they stop what they’re doing every four years and watch the Olympic Games.
Does that mean once the Olympics are over, they become… pole vault aficionados or curling passionate. No, they just don’t. But they watch the Olympic Games because again, it’s about us. It’s the best in us. We’re seeing better versions of ourselves doing extraordinary things in the sporting context that give us hope that teach us lessons.
And again, the other thing I learned was I say, I used to say, tell me your favorite Olympic moment. Most of those moments Unless I was in the U. S., Russia, or China, most of those moments were about a kid who failed, fell down, lost, but did it with grace, did it with dignity, did it in a way that we all wish that we could behave when things don’t go well.
The Olympics teach those lessons as much as someone running around the track beating their chest and pulling their shirt off and flexing. That’s kind of not what it’s about. And if that’s what your Olympic advertising shows, get in line for the people who are falling asleep.
Jill: Terrence, thank you so much as always.
Terrence Burns: My pleasure. Thank you for staying awake.
Jill: Thank you so much Terrence. You can follow email@example.com. Terrance h burns blog.com On Twitter, he’s T Burn Sports and he is also a good follow on LinkedIn. Uh, we’ll have a link to all of those in the show notes.
Paris 2024 News
Alison: Il neige!
Jill: It is snowing. It is snowing by you. It has snowed by me. It has been frigid cold. But that is okay because in a few short months we will be chaud, chaud,
And apparently we will also be drunk, drunk, drunk!
Jill: No, we won’t because they won’t have any beer in the Stadiums. the interesting thing is that InBev has become a top sponsor. This is the Olympics big marketing program, first beer brand they’re going to have in as a sponsor of the Olympics, and they will be sponsoring for 2024, 2026, and 2028.
Their brands include Budweiser, Corona, Michelob, and Modelo, and Corona Cero is going to be the global beer sponsor of the Olympic games. That is their non alcoholic version of Corona. So I guess maybe that’s what will be in the stadiums.
Alison: I’m sure the French will love that.
Jill: So this is interesting. It’s, it’s big score for the IOC getting a, another marketer into their top program, especially Especially after what we talked about with Terrence, but, uh, it’s also interesting that they’re having a beer sponsorship, although other sports have beer sponsorships as
Alison: well. I mean, the United, certainly in the United States, and I believe also in the UK, it’s just assumed that there’s an official beer for your team.
Jill: Right. Right. So, in related news, Michelob Ultra will be the exclusive beer sponsor for Team USA for 24, 26, and 28. Michelob Ultra is another, , brand in the InBev portfolio.
Alison: Because Americans don’t care how their beer tastes as long as it has fewer
Jill: calories. I guess so. I guess so. So actually, and that’s a big win for Team USA as well.
Exciting news for us. France announced its kit. Oh, I’m so excited.
Alison: And it looks like France just exploded all over these
Jill: clothes. So, , we’ll have a link, , in the show notes, Vogue Business, , put out a story about the French kit. it is designed by Stéphane Ashpool. And features a lot of white and then ombre ed versions of the flag on most of the uniforms. So what is your take as our kit expert?
Alison: Well, I don’t know about kit expert, but I do love this. It is so 1980s, um, spray paint. And a lot of fun.
I think it goes with this whole idea of making Paris more urban, younger, that was kind of the theme of these Olympics that they wanted the young urban people to get involved. And this looks like somebody spray painted it on the side of the subway.
Jill: I can see that. It’s very, it’s not quite tie dye, but it has that spreading of , the dye feel to it.
Alison: And I think actually the U. S. team needs to take a look at it. I know there’s going to be a ton of people who hate this and think it’s tacky and thinks it look, looks too retro in like, not a nostalgic way, in a old fashioned way. And I say, Pasha, I love this. And I love how they’ve. Use the French flag colors in an interesting and different way.
And I wish Team USA would do something along these lines where, yes, it’s got to be red, white, and blue, but do something. Have some other shades of the color. Like there’s this beautiful sky blue. In here and almost a pink because like you said, they’re doing the ombre and it keeps it a little more interesting, but it still looks like the French flag because it’s these abstract striping like the flag, which I adore though this one gymnast in the front of this picture and it looks like the cover of a Grateful Dead
Uh, that is true. It is a gymnast in a, uh, leotard, one sleeved leotard, which I’m just now noticing the one sleeve and the sleeve is mesh, but it looks like there is a cuff on it as well to be solid. With
Alison: beading, with
Jill: sparkles. Is it sparkles? Cause to me it looks like ruching
Alison: Oh, Oh no, those sleeves, that sleeve has beading and the whole thing.
Yes. No, the whole thing has beading, even in the deadhead center, but it does. So in the center, there is the blue, the white, and the red somewhat in a skull shape with, applique and beading.
Jill: that I think is probably the least effective piece out of all of them. and why is there
Alison: a naked man in this picture? There are naked men in this picture.
Jill: It’s supposed to be about the clothes. I bet he’s just wearing a swim trunks or something. Oh. And they just put him in the back, but they covered, they covered the part of his body that he has clothes on and, and I have to say, like, Vogue Business, they have some individual pictures further down in the story and like the first one is the, like a judo gi.
Which is white to begin with. And it didn’t make sense why they picked this one to show. But, overall it’s going to be an interesting kit to see. I like the fact that on the pants, sometimes you have pants that have the ombre all over them. , and this is goes for the shorts too, but sometimes they’re white and with a striped on the side that is also ombre in the colors.
And I think that is also a very cool look. I think that makes it more modern.
Alison: Right, and this is all from Le Coq Sportif, who is their official clothing provider. This makes me excited for what they’re going to do for opening ceremonies. I hope they don’t have naked men. I really don’t want that in the opening ceremony, which we have seen several
Jill: times of late.
The homage to the, ancient Olympic games.
Alison: Exactly. I do not want any homages that involve naked people running around, but if we can have some of that 1992 energy of the girls in the globes that had to spin their own snowflakes, I am for it. I am ready for you, France.
Jill: One, uh, interesting note is that The Olympic village and the Paralympic village, once they are done using it as a village, it becomes apartments for the general public.
Some of these will be rental. Some of these will be for sale, but they are not selling. the French real estate market is apparently not doing well because interest rates have risen from about 1 percent in January, 2022 to 4 percent today, which is a big jump. France24. com reported, and I believe it’s an AFP report from them, that about 10 of the 88 apartments that are put up for sale for private residents, , have actually sold.
So they’ve reduced prices about 9 percent to 6, 900 euros per square meter and compare that to average Paris prices, which are about 10, 000, 10, 000 euros per square meter. There may be another price reduction coming. So, maybe a pied à terre, pied à terre, in Saint Denis, is on the cards.
Alison: Well, you know, we’ll see if the wallpaper is put up with tape.
And then we can make our decisions.
Jill: Using the International Olympic Committee theme for a little Youth Olympic Games update from Gangwon, , they have decided to use a digital flame outside the stadium that will run through the length of the games.
Alison: But they’re also going to have a flame.
Jill: During the opening ceremonies. It looks like they will have a flame inside the stadium.
They will also put a digital flame outside of the stadium. Not sure if that flame in the stadium, if that’s going to be like a ground level flame, I’m not sure they’re going to move it to outside the stadium.
Alison: How I read the article was that there would be a cauldron with the stadium. I don’t know where it will be because they don’t tell you until it’s actually shown, but the digital cauldron will allow you or the digital flame will allow you to take pictures with the flame.
Jill: You can take pictures with the flame. You just have to give somebody else your camera and have them take a picture of you rather than a selfie. Well,
Alison: the other problem is depending on the angle of where that cauldron actually is. If it’s say at the top, like LA did it, that would be a little tricky. I like this digital flame.
I don’t think being able to take pictures with the flame is a bad thing. I don’t know why you’re scoffing.
Jill: I am scoffing because I think that this is going to be akin to one of those videotapes of a fireplace that you would put on in, put in your VCR and watch on TV. Okay, well stop
Alison: right there because I grew up with the WPIX channel 11 in New York.
You’ll log, and you will not denigrate. The televising of a fireplace. All
Jill: right. I did not know this touched your heart, so. Them’s
Alison: fightin words.
Jill: All right. So I guess it’s, one vote for digital flame, one vote dubious about digital flame. We will see how this goes.
TKFLASTAN (Team Keep the Flame Alive) News
Alison: Welcome to Shooklastan.
Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up our citizenship of Shooklastan. We are starting off with some results.
Alison: Katie Moon tied for second place at the UCS Spirit National Pole Vault Summit in Rideau, Nevada. She is now in India as an official ambassador at the Tata. Mumbai
Jill: Marathon, Nordic combined skier, Anika Malicinski had two 12th place finishes in the Nordic combined World Cup action at Oberstdorf, Germany.
She has five top 15 finishes this season so far, and it looks like she is jumping better this season. She’s been happy
Alison: with her results. She’s been very positive about this. Uh, Josh Williamson with driver Frank DeLuca finished 14th in the four man bobsled race in San Marics. Next week, they will be competing in Lillehammer,
And in other news, breakdancer Sonny Choi will be part of Team Samsung Galaxy for Paris 2024. The team will be the primary voices for Samsung’s campaign, Open Always Wins, They did something similar in Tokyo, I believe, where they had a team of people who were vlogging and posting and doing stuff in the name of Samsung, , but they haven’t released much more information about this year’s campaign.
We will look for that in the months to come.
Alison: Andrew Marinus book, Inaugural Ballers, has been named to the Texas Library Association’s Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List. And if you haven’t read
Jill: it You can, well, you can always listen to our conversation about the book to catch up and why you should read it, but you can get your copy at bookshop.
org slash shop slash flame alive pod and, uh, your purchases through that link go to support the show. Thank you to the listener who bought something through our link. So excited when that happens because it really does help. The commission really helps us, , put the show together. Also competing this weekend is speed skater Erin Jackson will be in the four continents championships with which this year is in the United States out in Utah.
Go Speedy J! And that is going to do it for this episode. Let us know what you think of the Olympic brand and how it is doing.
Alison: You can connect with us on X and Instagram at flamealivepod. Email us at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 352 6348. That’s 208 FLAME IT. Be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive podcast group on Facebook, and don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about this week’s episodes.
Sign up for that at flamealivepod.
Jill: com. , with the youth Olympic games starting up, our next two weekly shows will be recaps of them, which means you will get a look at what our daily shows from Paris will be like later this summer.
We are curious to see what the youth will bring and excited to go back to South Korea for winter games action. And yeah. Get into the, uh, Facebook group because we will probably have chats there as we watch events throughout the week. So thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.