Making sure the shuttlecocks all fly on time in the London Games

COUNTDOWN TO THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES
114 DAYS TO GO

Q What was your brand’s primary reason for being involved with the Games?

A It started with a belief that bringing the Games to London and hosting it in London was going to be a very good thing for the UK. We backed the bid from 2003 and then continued providing services to the organising committee and finally became official professional services provider in 2007. Throughout that, there’s been a real belief and passion around our firm’s involvement in delivering something like this.

We talk about London 2012 as being a super-credential for our firm. And I think that’s really what it’s about. The Olympic rings and the values that come with being an Olympic and Paralympic sponsor are important to us and share values that we have, but it was never about the logo for us, it was always about the work that we would deliver, and how we could use that delivery story to showcase what we do and how we do it and the sort of people that we are to our wider client base. That’s really been the primary driver behind this for us.

Q How did you structure the case for involvement to the board?

A With any partnership, we always look at the impact on four key things: our clients, our people, the communities in which we work and the wider firm. From a client perspective, this was something we felt we could deliver. It’s easy to write a cheque, it’s much harder to provide services and people. If it had just been cheques for logos, we wouldn’t have done it.

We also believed that this was something that our people would get behind and feel a real pride in helping to deliver, and it’s also important to us from a recruitment perspective: to be the only professional services firm that could offer potential recruits the opportunity to work on the Games was huge. We recruit about 1,000 graduates a year and I’ve talked to people in universities about the work that we do at London 2012 and the reaction is just phenomenal.

From a community perspective, we already had a relationship with the British Paralympic Association and with a charity called SportsAid which runs the Talented Athlete Scholarship scheme, and a programme called Deloitte Disability Sport aimed at getting disabled people into sport at grassroots level and then supporting the development pathway all the way up to gold medals. The sponsorship of London 2012 really cemented that. Sarah Storey, our London 2012 ambassador, is the most highly decorated currently competing Paralympian.

The final area we looked at was what we could do around the world. Since we got involved in London, we have developed relationships in the United States and in Canada. The Vancouver Games came before, but the sponsorship relationship came after the London one. And other Deloitte member firms around the world have had involvement. We supported Singapore’s inaugural Youth Olympic Games. It was part of our thinking that we’ve got this global network of firms and that we could take the experience and the expertise that we were developing in London and see how we could help deliver that in other countries. That was a big element of the decision to bid.

Q What was the hardest issue to resolve in order to get board approval?

A Our then chief executive John Connolly was personally invested in us doing this work and backing the bid and he was a big part of the decision to become a sponsor. From an approval perspective, it’s always best when it’s led from the top and then you get that swell of support from across the rest of the organisation. So it wasn’t an area in which we had an issue.

Q How did the announcement that you were involved affect your business?

A Our sponsorship created real internal excitement that continues to build. Externally, clients want the inside story. From how do you procure 1,100 shuttlecocks to how do you procure £700m of goods and services and think about what you’re going to do with it all afterwards? The interest has become phenomenal.

Q What are the most important commercial opportunities for you in the Games?

A As well as a showcase, it’s helped us to develop a wider set of relationships. We helped create the Chairman’s Club, a group of the chairmen and chief executives of the worldwide and tier one and tier two London sponsors. Being able to have that group of very senior business people, some clients, others who were targets for the firm and that we wanted to get to know, has been really useful for us.

Q What advice can you give non-official partners to help them make the most of the Games?

A The Games readiness work that we’ve done has shown there is an increasing appreciation that businesses need to plan for the Olympics but that would still be my main piece of advice. Businesses need to take seriously that this is going to happen. They need to make sure that they are planning both for the upside and also thinking about how they’re going to deal with the challenges that the summer is going to provide as well.

Annabel Pritchard is Deloitte’s London 2012 sponsorship director.