Olympics March 2016

Tie-ups to improve business

Reasons to partner with Team GB and Tokyo 2020

  • Reciprocal visits, MOU have built ties in relation to Games
  • BCCJ committed to support partnerships for Tokyo 2020
  • Partnerships with Team GB can enhance company brand
Bill Sweeney of the British Olympic Association

Bill Sweeney of the British Olympic Association

On 9 February, at the British Embassy Tokyo, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) hosted a briefing for British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) members and guests.

Bill Sweeney, chief executive of the British Olympic Association (BOA), shared insights on Team GB—the brand that represents athletes from the UK—and partnership opportunities ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In 2015, the Home Office and Japan’s National Police Agency signed an agreement to contribute to the delivery of a safe Tokyo 2020. Close bilateral ties were further cemented on 8 February, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the BOA and the Japanese Olympic Committee. This will allow the BOA to use facilities for their pre-Games training.

David Bickle, president of the BCCJ, said the chamber is committed to supporting partnerships during the Games by creating sustainable opportunities among BCCJ members and UK firms. This may be in the form of consulting, services, corporate social responsibility or brand association.

“The BCCJ’s global sporting events mission aims to achieve the best possible organisation, business and community results before, during and after the events”, he said.

“The BCCJ’s successful platform for key stakeholders—and our events programme—underpins this mission, supporting maximum knowledge transfer between London 2012 and Tokyo 2020”.

Sweeney noted that, unlike most other government-funded country teams, Team GB is independent and privately funded. It is, therefore, the BOA’s responsibility to acquire support from commercial brands, events, licensing and fundraising. As a result, explained Sweeney, success is “the strong, independent voice for British Olympic sport”.

From 15 medals in Atlanta 1996 (36th in the medals table) to 65 medals in London 2012 (3rd in the medals table), Team GB’s on-field performance is going from strength to strength.

The team, said Sweeney, “is inspiring a generation”. The Games are the most followed sporting event in the UK, and the fan base is the most diverse, with equal representation among age groups and a split of 54% female and 46% male.

Partnership opportunities with Team GB—which has three partnership philosophies—are about brands that can make each other better.

First is marketing partnerships. “It’s not about whom to get the most money from, but about shared value”, Sweeney said, adding that, a partnership with Aldi has proved to be of great mutual benefit. “Aldi is now the most loved marketing brand in the UK … the supermarket has a mission to bring healthy produce to the people”.

Second is flexibility; partnerships should be strategic. “Partnerships with sports brands can sometimes result in domination by that brand, but Team GB needs to be seen”, he said, pointing out the reasons behind unexpected tie-ups such as that with furnishings firm DFS, which claims to be “supporting the rest and relaxation of Team GB athletes” on the road to Rio 2016.

Less is more is third. Sweeney said long-term relationships with partners—beyond four years—are important because continually building partnerships from scratch places a great drain on shared knowledge and resources. The BOA, said Sweeney, appreciates partnerships that develop value and provide long-term assets.

“The creation of digital partnerships are equally important”, he added. For example, shared social media campaigns via online competitions allow Team GB and partners to reach a wide audience, providing them with rich content, and resulting in increased interaction, reach and traffic.

“From category exclusivity to intellectual property, from exclusive media access to bespoke marketing assets, the benefits are immense”, he said.

Partner events create value for partners, Team GB and fans. Sweeney said concepts such as Team GB House, Fan Zones, the Olympic ball and the Athletes’ Parade resulted in excellent marketing results and huge popularity.

Partners and Team GB can “enhance their brand, multiply customer loyalty, improve B2B relationships, develop CSR relationships and raise national awareness”, said Sweeney, adding that potential also exists in two sectors not yet represented: banking and telecommunication.