Thanks London 2012

Olympics OMD

OMD Insight review the impact of Olympic and Paralympic Games

It’s now been a few weeks since the Olympic and Paralympic Games have ended, so it seems the apt time to review the events, without getting caught up in the patriotic pride that swept its way across the nation.  This is obviously me speaking with my research hat on, but as a lover of sport I have to say it was bloody brilliant – GO TEAM GB!

As the games came to an end, OMD Insight ran their fourthand final foray into London 2012.  Conducted on OMD Insight’s SnapShots panel, the objective of this study was to provide a snapshot of consumers’ attitudes and opinions towards the games and their legacy.

Whilst many of us took quite a cynical and curmudgeonly attitude towards the games as the costs spiralled out of control and we were disheartened by the ticket fiasco – especially amongst Londoners – by the end many of us didn’t want the games to end.

So, it would be fair to say that the games truly changed the nation.  We integrated together as a society, we revelled in the excitement and passion of countless Olympic and Paralympic moments and we engaged with brands as they took us on an Olympian journey.

Traditional sports like Athletics, Swimming, Rowing and Track Cycling were well followed and the games exposed viewers to sports which they have never previously taken an interest in.  However, the sheer diversity and number of sports on offer at London 2012 meant that our respondents could not follow as many sports as they originally wanted.

In February 2012, 74% of respondents planned to follow Athletics at London 2012, but in reality only 55% did according to our research.  The same was true of Swimming (61% in February versus 39% in August) and in Diving (53% in February versus 36% in August).  Yet the excitement on the water at Eton Dorney and our domination in the velodrome captivated the nation and resulted in 40% of respondents following Rowing and 41% following Track Cycling, consistent with our February 2012 expectations.

The games also created a platform to build a sporting legacy across less familiar and supported sports.  Whilst Athletics was well followed ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the Olympics, the games broke down barriers and encouraged participation across sports which may have once been viewed as ‘elitist’ or ‘unattainable’.  Only 6% of those who followed Sailing at London 2012 previously followed the sport before the games and the same was true of Eventing (7%) and Canoeing (4%).

It should come as no surprise that the biggest success at London 2012 was Team GB’s medal haul.  84% of respondents said that Team GB’s medal achievements at London 2012 was a success, whilst creating a patriotic spirit was viewed as the second most successful element at London 2012 (75%).

However, respondents were not totally convinced that London 2012 was successful at creating jobs, increasing tourism and providing a sustainable future for the area redeveloped by our significant investment – issues which the newly formed London Legacy Development Corporation need to deliver upon.

Before the games started there was talk that this would be the first truly social Olympics and we were not disappointed as Olympians and Paralympians turned to social network sites to engage with supporters.  In total, ten athletes generated more than 1 million tweets during London 2012.  Usain Bolt’s success in the 200m final alone generated 80,000 tweets per minute.  However, guess what the most discussed moment during London 2012 was?  The Spice Girls inflicted Usain Bolt’s first defeat at an Olympics as their return during the Closing Ceremony generated 116,000 tweets per minute, which far outstripped Bolt’s achievements…gold for girl power!  Overall, London 2012 was the first Social Olympics and generated over 150 million tweets during the 16-day event #FirstSocialOlympics.

Only now is the buzz of London 2012 wearing off!  Leaving us with moments we will never forgot; moving us to feel more patriotic and proud of Great Britain; and inspiring the next generation of athletes.  And no one has done more to inspire the next generation than Mo Farah.

Mo Farah generated the most favourite moments of London 2012, with 15% of respondents citing his achievements as the most memorable.  His, along with Team GB’s outstanding performance, made us all proud to be British.  Our survey found that 63% of respondents said that the games made them feel more patriotic and proud of Great Britain; and despite initial concerns around funding, security and organisation, 66% of respondents were pleased that the games were held in London.

OMD Insight_Mo Farah

Overall, the Olympic and Paralympic Games were rightly viewed more as a sporting showcase than a commercial and regeneration initiative.  70% of respondents said that London 2012 was about showcasing sporting talent on a world stage and 67% said that London 2012 was about inspiring youth talent development.

By the end of it, the Olympics and Paralympics showed us that we can achieve great things.  The issues around security, transportation and weather never raised their heads; our concerns of underperforming never materialised; and our worries around how the public would embrace the games surprised us all.

Whilst most of us have been moved by the countless stories, the underlying learning from this summer is that hard work and determination are always rewarded; values which are fundamental for developing future sporting talent and a successful society.

But the success of the games went beyond the medal count.  Over 70,000 individuals volunteered over 8 million hours during the games.  This overwhelming enthusiasm for community volunteering may be one of the most important legacies of the games.  Brands have also been an integral component of London 2012, but they need to build on the momentum and be part of the legacy drive.

Patriotic pride has been taken back!  Whilst this has in the past been the virtue of the far-right, consumers have been liberated to demonstrate their ‘Britishness’ and its now cool to be proud of and part of Britain.

So as the memory of London 2012 fades away, the fortitude and focus our athletes showed should inspire us all to be better and help put the ‘Great’ back into Great Britain.

If good things come to those who wait, how long will we have to wait for another summer like this?

Source: OMD Insight SnapShots Panel (August 2012).  Base: 354 nationally representative respondents


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