Brand policing around major events should not be ‘draconian’ argues former London Olympics manager


(l-r) Jack Lamacraft, Nick Hockley, Mark Cameron

A former senior commercial manager for the London 2012 Olympics has said sporting events should avoid “draconian” responses to ambush marketing, as Australia prepares to host two major international sporting events next year.

Nick Hockley, who was head of commercial negotiations for the London Olympics and is now working as the general manager, commercial, for the 2015 Cricket World Cup being held in Australia and New Zealand in February and March, said the organisation would be looking for a “proportionate” approach to deal with brands trying to jump on the good will generated by the event.

The build up to London 2012 was punctuated with stories such as a butcher’s shop being forced to remove a sign featuring five rings of sausages in the shape of the Olympic logo, and even a small greasy-spoon Cafe Olympic in East London being told to change its name.

Speaking on the topic of sports marketing at last week’s Mumbrella360 conference following a question about how the Cricket World Cup would protect its intellectual property, Hockley said: “It’s got to be a proportionate approach.

“If you take a draconian approach to it then I think the person trying to ambush has kind of succeeded, because then it will get talked about.”

Australia also hosts the Asian Cup for football in January.

Hockley was joined by M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment director Jack Lamacraft and Mark Cameron, CEO of customer experience agency Working Three.

Lamacraft said he believed there is opportunity for brands to activate around events without an official relationship with the rights holder.

“An official relationship with the rights holder obviously opens up a lot of different channels. If you get use of the IP you can really drive that association with the event. But I think every brand really needs to understand what their objectives are. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

“I work predominantly with brands and I just have to look at the brand’s best interests and not all of them can afford to partner officially with an event. But we always try to go down that route if possible because you’ve got to support the events at one point otherwise there would be nothing.”

Lamacraft also spoke on his approach working with M&C Saatchi client Commonwealth Bank.

“Commonwealth Bank have obviously been involved in cricket in this country for 26 years. We won’t necessarily be ambushing the Cricket World Cup. However, we will be talking about cricket throughout the year. Our campaign will be mostly leveraged throughout the Test Series, but we will be looking to extend that cricket conversation through the World Cup.”


The Specsavers tactical advert

Hockley said that clever brands could be applauded for capitalising on events in certain instances, such as Specsavers’ response to the London Olympics’ Korean flag gaffe, which saw organisers put up the wrong country’s flag during the football tournament.

“Specsavers weren’t an official partner but you know what – good on them.”

Cameron spoke about the need to use data coming from events, and urged rights holders like the Cricket World Cup to get their data organised and share it with sponsors to help benefit both organisations.

Jack Fisher


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