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Q What was your brand’s primary reason for being involved with the Games?
A The Olympics is one of the world’s great inspirational events. It’s a great way to develop our reach and relationship with our consumer base, by helping them to be inspired about the Olympics – and inspired about our products too.
Q How was the case for involvement structured to the board?
A Samsung has been a global sponsor since 1998, and we started as a local partner at the Seoul Games, back in 1988. In 2007, we agreed to extend our partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a provider of wireless communications equipment. We’re now signed up through to the Summer Games in Rio in 2016. That continued commitment is because we believe the Olympics adds to our brand score metrics and we’ve also seen good increases in sales revenue. At the Beijing Olympics, we saw our mobile phone sales double in China in that period. So there’s some good analytics included with the Olympics for us.
Q Were there any issues that were difficult to reconcile in becoming a worldwide partner?
A No. I think a global event like the Olympics is a natural fit for Samsung. We’re the brand leader in the mobile space. We’re the biggest brand in TV hardware. These are both global businesses, and so it fits very nicely for us. That’s especially true for our mobile sponsorship of the Olympics. The Galaxy S III is the official mobile phone of the London 2012 Olympics and we’ve also created a special app, Samsung Hope Relay, to allow everyone with a smartphone to get involved. We believe this Olympics is very social, very participative. We’re calling it Everyone’s Olympic Games. So the idea is that, if you download this app, for every completed mile you walk, run and cycle, we’ll donate £1 to our charity in the UK and 20 other countries. It’s a very powerful way for everyone to join in and make a contribution.
Q How have you structured your business to maximise Olympic opportunities?
A As a global partner, we have both a global team that works from Olympics to Olympics, and also a local team. We have a Samsung Olympic office in Canary Wharf, and then a team developing specific UK activity. So it’s a big team driving our engagement with the Olympics.
Q How has the announcement of London being the host of the 2012 Olympic Games affected your business?
A We are so pleased with the level of excitement in London. From a business sentiment point of view, in this long recessionary period, it’s important that events like this can improve consumer confidence and the general mood economically. We’ve certainly seen that there is some great engagement for our brand. People are looking to use technology to make this Games more accessible to them, so we believe it is a very important event this year. But overall we just think the Games is important to lift the mood and help the atmosphere. And there’s every chance of it doing that: London is buzzing at the moment and I think the torch relay is going to light up a lot of regional towns and cities. We’re one of the three presenting partners of the torch relay, and we’ve always looked to be involved. This is the big one for us – I think the torch relay caravan will be on tour for 70 days in all. And there’s nearly as many shows each night. It’s a very engaging schedule, looking to involve the majority of the population in the small and medium-sized towns, and to reach out to give them an Olympic experience. It’s a very positive exercise for us.
Q What are the most crucial commercial opportunities at this year’s Olympics for Samsung?
A Primarily it’s about our mobile technology: the new generation Galaxy is the official phone for the Games. But also brand recognition and the creation of a less defensive consumer mood, which is especially important in the markets we work in. We’ve got Team Samsung, 11 British Olympic and Paralympic athletes working with us, including David Beckham, Victoria Pendleton and Zara Philips. But the interesting thing for us, from a business point of view, is the work we’ve been able to pursue with the mobile phone operators. We’ve done a lot of campaigns that have already been very popular with Vodafone, O2, and Phones4U.
Q How are you distributing the ticket allocation you are able to buy as a top Olympic sponsor?
A We’ve decided to give 98 per cent of our ticket allocation back to consumers. For us, this Olympics more than ever is about the general public being able to engage and so this is a great way for us to help make that possible, and to demonstrate that commitment to London 2012 as being an Olympics for everyone.
Andy Griffiths is managing director of Samsung UK and Ireland.