Keeping the Legacy alive


Is there any evidence to suggest that attitudes to sport and physical activity has changed since the Olympics/Paralympics or has all the enthusiasm disappeared with the extinguishing of the flame?

Being a Chartered Marketer and having worked my whole life in sport, this topic is close to my heart, so over the next few hundred words I will attempt to put the case forward for why Marketers should continue to associate their products and services with sport and sports events in the UK and how ultimately this will benefit everyone and not just the bottom line.

The feel-good factor generated by the Olympics can persist if we want it to. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be” Just watching the Olympics, and being caught up in the national enthusiasm, changed how many people felt. This proves that we may have the capacity to change how we feel without going to doctors, dealers, publicans or supermarkets.

In my view sport, art, music and culture all have the ability to help people make up their minds to be happy. As Marketers we know that people who feel happy are much more likely, to buy things, try new things, and commit to healthier lifestyles this presents many opportunities for companies who have positioned themselves appropriately.

The London 2012 Olympics/Paralympics were not isolated events they were part of a planned ‘Decade of Sport’ for the UK, which began with the Ryder Cup in Wales (2010), then moved on to the Olympics/Paralympics 2012. In 2014 we have the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, 3 Tour de France stages, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, in 2015 we have the Rugby World Cup. 2017 sees the World Athletics Championships coming to London and in 2019 the ICC Cricket Work Cup comes to England.  This is not an exhaustive list but does give a flavour of what is to come and the many opportunities for ‘Happy People’ that Marketers will be able to engage with over the next few years.

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Part of the Legacy will be more kids enjoying and playing sport.

Yes that’s all very well I hear you say but is there any evidence?  The most comprehensive measurement of the level of physical activity for the general population in England is the ‘Active People Survey’ this has been running since October 2005. Sport England announced in December that during 2012 there had been an increase of 750,000 people playing sports at least once a week since the same time a year ago and 1.57 m more people than in 2005 when UK won the Olympic bid (See Announcement).

To conclude, participation is certainly on the increase which indicates a significant behavioural change. But that’s not the only thing on the increase, major investment from the government and sponsors such as Sainsbury’s (10 million School Games) and Sky (British Cycling circa £20 million to date) is likely to generate more interest, enthusiasm, events and participation.

With the cost of physical inactivity to the UK’s government currently estimated at £900m (Source BHF), investment is only likely to increase.  I urge Marketers to ‘Play the long game’ and to engage with the sporting community, not only to improve their bottom line (and surely it will) but also to help inspire a generation and to keep the ‘Legacy alive’.

Ian Wakefield

Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

Extracts from this article were published in ‘The Marketer’ in May 2013

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One thought on “Keeping the Legacy alive

  1. Very nicely put Ian, well done.

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