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10 Ways Sponsors Can Support the Olympic Movement Right Now

Leveraging the Olympic spirit to demonstrate leadership, innovation and brand purpose

Olympic sponsorship offers the power to drive brand and business goals. But success is completely dependent on a sponsor’s commitment to think beyond rights activation and leverage the Olympic spirit and values that are core to the Games.

Though Tokyo 2020 is postponed until next year, sponsors—as key figures of the Olympic Family—have the unique ability to support the Olympic Movement now. Doing so can help connect the global community and integrate key learnings during this unprecedented time, while enhancing activation plans moving forward.

1. Increase engagement in a virtual world.

The current global pandemic has taught us that we can still engage with others, even while practicing social distancing. From online parties to live concerts to virtual tours and more—traditionally social, external events are being streamed online. Sponsors have the opportunity to engage audiences through their activations and enable Olympic experiences across the globe.

2. Show up for Japan.

Japan’s spotlight moment is suffering a costly delay.Not only are Tokyo 2020 organizers faced with the uphill battle of managing already escalating costs in an extended Games’ preparation timeline, but the entire host market is impacted—loss of business, loss of tourism revenue, and a delayed opportunity to unveil the Japan of tomorrow, today. The nation’s proud population will need to be supported by partners in the coming months as it continues to prepare to host the world under challenging circumstances.

3. Start thinking about China…

Tokyo and Japan have been impacted. But what about Beijing and China? Every host market makes a significant investment in staging the Games in hopes that it helps drive broad benefit for a generation. Sponsors shouldn’t delay Beijing 2022 planning and activity, and should use the condensed Olympic timeline to create more integration across their efforts. An added motivation: helping combat coronavirus-inspired negative sentiment toward China demonstrates a brand’s alignment with the values of the Olympic Movement.

4. …and beyond.

Bouncing back from the current pandemic, both economically and psychologically, is a challenge that will inevitably impact future host markets as well. By joining the Olympic Family, sponsors have a vested interest in each Games edition and should consider their role in igniting or supporting local recovery efforts. Community and local business engagement will ultimately deliver impact and a stronger platform for Games-time opportunities.

5. Back the athlete movement.

Athletes are the lifeblood of the Games. But they continue to be subjected to decisions made by institutions that are increasingly out of touch with younger generations, whose values reflect the need for more social progress. Brands can more authentically connect to emerging audiences by providing increased support and opportunity for athletes who fight for their beliefs. Offering platforms for athlete-to-peer and/or athlete-to-fan engagement can create more connected and inspiring communities.

6. Make an impression with millennial business partners.

Sponsors have the potential to create deeper relationships with millennial B2B audiences by advancing the social causes that are foundational to the Olympic Movement—and are equally relevant outside of the 17 days of the Games. As leaders in their respective industries, sponsors can set an example for other brands and institutions to contribute to sustainability, equality, diversity and inclusion efforts on a global scale.

7. Rally around grassroots sports.

Grassroots sports will inevitably lose funding, but don’t have to suffer irreparable losses. Almost every organization will immediately struggle in the coming weeks and months—yet support isn’t guaranteed for them all: some sport federations and National Olympic Committees were depending on the financial injection an Olympic and Paralympic year would bring and will now be fighting for survival. The collective Olympic Family should demonstrate solidarity and rally to boost those most in need.

8. Fully embrace the Paralympic Movement (finally).

The Paralympic Movement continues to wait for its moment in the spotlight. Back-to-back record-setting Paralympic showcases in London and Rio set the stage for a potentially game-changing edition in Tokyo—one that could make global superstars, drive greater awareness and inspire mass participation. In this age of purpose, inclusion and accessibility have become part of mainstream conversation. Yet few sponsors have embraced the Paralympics in a way that lifts the Movement to its full potential.

9. Deploy a long-term, multi-Games narrative.

Thirty years have passed since the Games were held in such a condensed timeline. Sponsors can feasibly roll out a campaign and a purposeful role in the Movement that lives in-market for multiple months, establishing a familiar storyline for audiences to follow and powering increased recognition.

10. Think beyond sport.

For the first time in modern history, we’re living in a world that lacks live sports—creating a massive void of sports content. And with the absence of an Olympic Games this summer, we’ll also miss out on the emotional stories of human triumph. This gives Olympic sponsors an opportunity to stretch their creativity, expand beyond traditional channels, and explore new partnerships that can deliver sports-adjacent content to attentive new audiences—who need this uplift now more than ever.

GMR is honored to have supported sponsors, athletes and organizers through 15 different Olympic Games, and to count 7 TOP Sponsors in our roster for Tokyo 2020. In these unprecedented times, we take seriously our role as a partner to the Olympic Family, helping to meet complex challenges in innovative ways, while honoring the global unity at the heart of the Olympic Movement.

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