Tim Longhurst's Blog

How a sell-out olympics means rows of empty seats

August 12th, 2008 · 1 Comment

When people say the Olympics has “sold out”, what they may actually mean is that the Olympics are more about “selling out” to corporate sponsors than ensuring people actually see the games live…

There are a number of reasons that Olympic stadium seats are empty in these ‘sold out’ Olympics. Here is the reason I find the most compelling:

Sponsors, media rights holders and government officials aren’t using their tickets; or, they are using their tickets for only a portion of the allocated time (tickets secure the holder a seat for an entire ‘session’, which usually lasts several hours).

The Olympics cost sponsors, media rights holders, government officials and committees (IOC, national Olympic committees and sporting authorities) a lot of time and money, and part of their reward includes allocations of tickets.

So the question is, how do tickets that won’t be used get allocated efficiently now and at the next games? Part of the answer may come from Wimbledon, helpfully, the home of the 2012 Olympic games:

“Wimbledon operates a ticket resale system, with tickets surrendered during the day resold and the proceeds donated to charity.

When spectators decide to leave before the end of a day’s play, they are encouraged to place their ticket in special boxes located around the ground.

These tickets are then re-printed and sold at the resale kiosk, which opens mid to late afternoon.”

This is a positive Public Relations opportunity

Well that’s straight forward: Olympic sponsors / ticket holders could quickly register the tickets they won’t be using each day online… The organisation that releases the most amount of tickets through the system (and therefore raises the most money for charity) could receive some kind of recognition, as a way of rewarding organisations that would otherwise be leaving seats empty.

At these games, though, a more basic system can come into play – if sponsors have tickets they won’t be using, give them away! Just about anyone on the street would gladly receive the gift. It’s much more sporting than just letting a ticket go unused because you couldn’t find someone schmooze-worthy to take!

If you represent an Olympic sponsor (General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, Kodak, Lenovo, Manulife, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung, Visa, Sinopec, CNPC, China Mobile, Volkswagen, Adidas, Air China, PICC, State Grid…) and/or you’ve got an innovative method of ensuring ticket allocations are used, post it!

Zàijiàn! Tim

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Category: Corporate craziness

Hey Visa: Trashing a neighbourhood with your brand is not good marketing.

July 29th, 2008 · 10 Comments

Beijing’s “Nanluogu Xiang” Hutong (alley) is a bustling mix of stores, bars and eateries… A favourite of ex-pat’s and locals alike.

At night, the alley is illuminated by the lights from within the restaurants, street lamps and bright red Chinese lanterns.

But tonight, all of this has been washed out in a sea of tacky corporate badvertising.

Stand up and be counted, Visa. Everyone’s been talking about China’s effort to take on the air pollution, but what about Visa’s campaign to create visual pollution?

Here, in this picture, we see a man drilling a hole in a beautiful Beijing restaurant’s wall. Why is he doing this?

Oh, I see – this is why – he’s doing it for Visa! A credit card company…

And looky-here: there’s plenty where that one came from…

The alley I’m describing is narrow – it has room enough for one car to pass by and all the bikes and pedestrians have to scurry out if the way. To fill the alley with lightboxes for a credit card isn’t just tackey, it’s insulting to Chinese culture and offensive to visitors who expect to be able to enjoy Beijing’s charm without multinational’s trashing said charm for a perceived marketing benefit.

Personally, I think they’ve miscalculated. I can’t imagine getting ANY goodwill out of running roughshod over a small Chinese neighbourhood just because in ten days a bunch of rich foreigners will be showing up.

I’d love to know what Visa paid, who they paid the money to; whether the shopkeepers are getting remunerated for the loss of charm; and whether someone from Visa is going to be smart enough to literally pull the plug on this ghastly mistake.

If you’re a marketing rep from Visa and you’d like to respond, get in touch.

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Category: Corporate craziness