Team GB hopes London success keeps sponsorship money in tow

Great Britain's Jessica Ennis was one of several gold medalists for the Olympic host.
More than $1 billion in British sponsorship money flowed into the Olympics during the past seven years, and the marketplace is watching closely to see if any brands reserve some marketing dollars to support Olympic sports in the future.

Team Great Britain, which has been supported over the last seven years by a public lottery, has not traditionally attracted a lot of sponsorship cash, and most of the marketing dollars in the U.K. is directed to the English Premier League.

The success of Team GB over the last two weeks has many sports marketing executives in the U.K. optimistic that will change.

“It will be interesting to see what the legacy will be,” said Sam Rush, chief operating officer of Wasserman Media Group’s European business. “Football is all we care about here. In six weeks time, will we be back to the Premiership or will some sports such as cycling continue to grow?”

Steve Martin, CEO at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, which worked with Coca-Cola during the Olympics, said he expects some of the brands that sponsored the Olympics the last seven years will look to extend that commitment and capitalize on the nation’s nascent passion for Team GB sports, but he was uncertain of how extensive their investments would be.

“The Team GB guys have to go to the market next week because their sponsorships end after the Games,” Martin said. “You can look at that as an unbelievable opportunity because the Games have shown how sport can generate passion and the power of aligning with Team GB, or it could be a problem because of the macro environment we’re in means that not everyone is flush with cash after the credit crunch. Nobody knows if the dollars will roll in or if it will be doom and gloom.”

Some of the sponsorship dollars will be redirected into other big sports events destined for the U.K. in the coming years. The nation will host track and field’s world championships in 2013, the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

That will make it tough for Olympic sports to keep sponsors’ marketing dollars, but marketing executives believe that after brands have evaluated results from the London Games, they will preserve some commitment to Olympic sports.

“A lot of it will get re-invested into other sponsorships and sporting properties,” said Eddie May, who heads Threepipe Sport, a sports marketing PR agency. “Because of some of the success of Team GB, there will be a big appetite to keep involved in these sports in big ways. A fair proportion of it will still be there. I don’t think all of that investment will suddenly stop after the Olympics.”

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