What really draws us into the Olympics...

By Luke Henshall

A comment you may have heard earlier this week whether on talk back radio or general chit chat in the office, "oh this always happens, all the hullaballoo and negative press in the build up to the Olympics will largely get forgotten when the event starts."

Yes, ok, thanks for that insightful observation whoever you are. But why is this? What is it about this 16-day festival of sporting prowess that draws us in again and again despite the millions of dollars either squandered or spent for a good purpose, depending on where you stand, by the host countries. Barring the obvious patriotic and world's best reasons, there's two points in particular that stand out in our humble opinion and both can have application for your business.

Narrative rich

Stories. The Olympics is a bountiful cornucopia of stories. From Shakespearean tragedies, to David vs Goliath, there's no shortage of yarns to keep journalists positively salivating and viewers entertained. It's barely been a week and already we've been treated to some absolute beauties. First up being our first medal winner, a little-known woman from Timaru who has shot to the front page after winning. Small town girl conquering the world. This was followed on day 2 by the straight up goodies versus baddies story, that was literally framed that way by the Australian swimmer Mack Horton who had a crack at his Chinese rival who had a few years earlier been penalised for taking prescription drugs. One that got little attention was a tearful Novak Djokovic being upset by the South American Juan Martin del Potro and don't forget the minnows of the rugby sevens world, Japan upsetting New Zealand. At its base level what all of these stories have in common is an achievement of extraordinary proportions or triumph under adversity.

Have a look in your organisation. Where are your Olympic stories? Sure, they don't have to be world conquering achievements but there's plenty of milestones, achievements, innovations going on every day that may not rise to the attention of others. When you consider the size of your marketing budget, these stories are your gold. Think less medals but more of the mineral kind to be mined from your business operations. It may be a simple day in the life from someone on the front line, giving your organisation a human touch, making the mundane extraordinary, or it could be a new construction technique or financial result, whatever it is look in and seek out those stories. And when you do, think visual, think social. Everyone in your organisation has the power to get a pic or video and be a news hound. Which brings us to point two…

Power of Celebrity

I don't know if it's just me but it feels like the way social media and mobile phone use has evolved in the four years since the last Olympics has really impacted on the resulting coverage. We're seeing more shots of empty stadiums, graphic injuries, funny facial memes but the real stand out use of social media is, the clickbait gem of them all, inter-celebrity admiration. There's been numerous examples of this already: Usain Bolt posing with Sonny Bill Williams, Matthew McConaughey posing with our Rugby Sevens Team or one of the stars from the latest Ghostbusters film in her own words "losing her sh**t" over the woman's sevens team haka. It's a mutual admiration fan club thing, those used to being on the world stage in a particular pursuit, showing their respect for another. As mere mortals, we look at this and appreciate the hard graft and talent taken to get them there. How you translate this to improving your business is less straight forward but the concept can definitely be applied. It's a matter of positioning your CEO's or high performers with peers in the industry, whether that be at a conference or symposium, it's all about being seen to be with the best of the best. This may happen behind the scenes anyway but it's always good to bring it front and centre occasionally for perception purposes and is a good path towards showing thought leadership within the wider industry.

Hopefully that offers you some nutritious food for thought for your Olympic efforts and with over a week left in the games itself, make sure you enjoy the action!

Image credit: Sonny Bill Williams / Twitter


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