Giving ninety per cent of its tickets away is P&G’s winning 2012 strategy

COUNTDOWN TO THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES
295 DAYS TO GO

Irwin Lee explains why being the Proud Sponsor of Mums makes business sense for Procter & Gamble

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

A.Our first involvement with the Olympics came in Vancouver with the 2010 Winter Games. We were given the opportunity to sponsor Team USA and that’s where it all started for us. We wanted to unite the common purpose and ideals of our organisation with those of the International Olympics Committee (IOC). At P&G, we are committed to improving lives through our products and what we do as a company, and the IOC stands for improving lives through sport. This partnership gives us an unparalleled opportunity to connect with billions of people around the world.

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

A.The results from Vancouver sold the idea to establish a global partnership with the IOC. We saw increased sales, higher brand recall amongst consumers and higher message recall from our brands’ advertising. We knew, with our global brands and operations, that we could scale this work and take it worldwide and we’re very excited as we make the first step on this journey with the IOC, starting with London 2012.

Q.THE GAMES PRESENT NUMEROUS COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES. WHICH ARE THE MOST CRUCIAL FOR YOU AND HOW WILL YOU BE USING THESE FOR MAXIMUM RETURN?

A.While there will be opportunities for Games-time supply of products, our focus will be on our base business. We will use the Games and our association with Olympic teams, athletes and their families to deliver an unprecedented consumer reach for our total portfolio. We have brilliant ticket giveaways to reward our existing consumers and attract new ones too. We are working closely with LOCOG and are partnering with the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations to support their fantastic “nearest & dearest” (friends and family supporting athletes) programme. We’ve already seen our Olympic association bear fruit for our business in the US in 2010 and in the UK in 2011 (one year to go pilot commercial activities). We’re confident that the next ten years of this agreement will reap similar rewards.

Q.IN THE LIGHT OF THE NEW BRIBERY ACT LEGISLATION, HOW WILL YOU HANDLE HOSPITALITY AND TICKETS?

A.We’ve committed to giving 90 per cent of our ticket allocation away to mums and families as part of our Proud Sponsor of Mums campaign and the remainder will be used for media to help tell the stories of our athletes and their families during this historic time for them. We’ve been running commercial initiatives in stores supported by broad media campaigns, where consumers get the chance to win tickets for their families when they buy P&G products, and there’s a lot more to come on the road to London 2012. It’s all about getting people excited about the Games and doing what we can to give back while growing our business at the same time. And just this week we’ve announced our gift to Team GB and ParalympicsGB. P&G will be giving every Team GB and ParalympicsGB athlete’s mums and families tickets to see their son or daughter compete in their first event. This is our small gift to them to say thank you for everything they’ve done.

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

A.We’ve added very little new structure. We have a global coordination team; and I have a small UK Olympics project team. The key is to focus on a few big ideas that we believe will have maximum impact. Communication-wise, we are dialling up digital on top of traditional media. The digital revolution presents limitless opportunities to connect with people all over the world and have two-way interactive conversations. This is reinventing marketing and brand-building and we think the Olympics too. This will be the first social media games and we’re focused on how we can make the most of it for P&G and all those who want to join us in being part of the Olympic conversation.

Q.WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT TO DATE?

A.We always expected this partnership to excite and engage our employees but the reaction has been simply staggering. We held this year’s UK company review and celebration at an Olympic venue and had a number of Olympic heroes as guest speakers, and the organisation loved it. Our employees are more inspired and enthused by the partnership than we could ever have imagined and the work that’s coming out on all our brand plans and the P&G campaign across the next year are some of the best I’ve ever seen in my 25 years with the company.

Irwin Lee is the vice president and managing director for Procter & Gamble UK and Ireland.