A firm fuelled by the same spirit as the Olympic and Paralympic Games

 
Marc Sidwell
Follow Marc
COUNTDOWN TO THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES

142 DAYS TO GO

Mike Sharrock is the man helping BP to bring twenty-first century energy to the London 2012 Games

Q. WHAT WAS YOUR BRAND’S PRIMARY REASON FOR BEING INVOLVED WITH THE GAMES ?

A. BP has had its home in London for over 100 years now, and as one of the largest companies in the UK we wanted to be part of the celebrations and contribute to the success of London 2012, it felt for us the right thing to do, a very natural fit. We also saw a strong convergence of values with the Olympic movement. In a sense, the Olympic and Paralympic Games stand for the mobilisation of human energy to achieve extraordinary performance and that resonated very strongly inside BP.

Q. HOW DID YOU STRUCTURE THE CASE FOR INVOLVEMENT TO THE BOARD?

A. We thought very deeply about the sources of value from the investment, and there were four main ones: a positive brand projection; the way we could energise our people through the association; also the extraordinary opportunities to engage our business partners; and finally the chance to excite our customers. But we were very clear that we wanted to structure our involvement in areas that were very real, where we had a real contribution to make. As an oil and gas partner supplying fuel to the Games, as a sustainability partner and offsetting partner and as premier partner to the Cultural Olympiad, our associations are all areas that felt very natural to BP.

Q. HOW HAVE YOU STRUCTURED YOUR BUSINESS TO MAXIMISE OLYMPIC OPPORTUNITIES?

A. We’re working to ensure that the 5,000 vehicles of the Olympic fleet are fuelled with not just the best fuel of today but a projection of the best fuel of the next 10-15 years. That isn’t something we’re creating for the Games, it reflects BP’s strategic direction and the investment we’ve made. We’ve had people from across the company, scientists, technology experts and others all working to create the next generation of biofuels. The Olympics provides an opportunity for a large number of teams from across BP to work together to try and deliver something extraordinary.

Q. HOW HAS THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF BP’S INVOLVEMENT AFFECTED ITS BUSINESS?

A. It has generated huge excitement internally, initially in the UK and more widely as we’ve rolled out more global programmes. We’ve extended our partnerships elsewhere, becoming a top-level partner of the US Olympic committee in early 2010 and more recently extending into another seven countries. Externally we’ve seen the association delivering a positive impact to our brand.

Q. HOW WILL YOU BE USING THE COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES OF THE GAMES FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT?

A. We want to ensure that we are contributing to a more sustainable Games. As well as using the best fuels, we’re offsetting the remaining CO2 from the Olympic fleet and offering to offset the carbon of all the ticketed spectators travelling to the Games.

As the premier partner of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival we’re using some very longstanding partnerships with some of the UK’s leading cultural institutions. We’ve been involved in some extraordinary projects over the last couple of years, as we will be with the festival this summer. One example is the Olympic Journey, a free exhibition in the Royal Opera House telling the story of the Olympics from ancient Greece to the present day, in partnership with the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

We’re also bringing the excitement of the Games to our 1m customers a day in the UK. Our UK retail business has exciting plans rolling out in the next few months.

One of the great things about the Olympics is it gives us an opportunity to do things that we wouldn’t in a normal year. The Tate Movie Project, for instance, involved 30,000 children across the UK in the making of a movie that won a children’s Bafta.

Q. WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT?

A. The amount of inspiration there is in being associated with the Olympic movement. We’re seeing that in all our activities and most of all in what we’re doing with the athletes. We’re providing fuel for over 200 athletes on their journey to the Games but we’re also supporting six athletes in a special way, three Olympic hopefuls, three Paralympic hopefuls, and they are tremendous role models and inspiring individuals. We’ve also created programmes with an inspirational feature. Our traders in Canary Wharf had developed a game about orange juice trading to train our oil traders on. We turned it into an activity for schools about trading fuel for the Games. The teams also get judged on how they live up to the Olympic and Paralympic values. This has been rolled out across the UK – every month there is a special event at which schools compete. It’s an example of the Games’s inspiring power.

Mike Sharrock is BP’s partnership director for London 2012.