Inspiration is a word we often see used in the media, news and corporate life. If I remember my school Latin lessons correctly it literally means ‘breathing in’, that great sense of readiness we get when we take in a deep breath and pause, just for a second, before we apply ourselves with vigor and passion to some project or task. We can be inspired or inspire others and with our sponsorship of London 2012 I feel it and believe we are doing it to others.
In less than 200 days, the greatest show on earth comes to my country’s capital, London. It’s never happened before in my lifetime and in spite of longer life expectancies, it is probably never going to happen again. Which means not only do I want to savour every moment, share it with my family and friends but I also want to leave a permanent mark in terms of Cisco’s involvement. When the sound of the closing ceremony to the Paralympics is but a memory in the Olympic Park, I want Cisco’s investment in the Games to be inspiring future generations of athletes, students, entrepreneurs, business people and ordinary members of our community…both in the UK and the furthest reaches of our planet.
As a marketer, sponsoring a global event such as London 2012 is incredibly exciting and at the same time a major challenge. With so many other sponsors and the general media noise that builds up around the Games, how do you create a marketing strategy that has depth and stands out?
For us, London 2012 isn’t about riding the coat tails of the Olympics and cashing in on the opportunity by association. We believe that London 2012 provides an inflection point for progress in the UK, it’s economy and the 60 million people who live here. And we believe that Cisco can be a major catalyst to delivering this positive change by inspiring our children, equipping our students with valuable technology skills and providing the country’s business infrastructure for accelerating technology start-ups. It’s about inspiring people. And that is our differentiator, our message and marketing story to connect with our audiences.
But even with a distinct message, making your marketing effective is a tall order. While watching one TV show last week, I saw more than five different ads featuring London 2012 and athletes during the breaks. You can’t open a newspaper, pick up your web mail or turn a street corner without one brand or another waving an athlete in your face by official sponsors and non-sponsors.
Our marketing strategy is already set, our plans are in place and many of our marketing activations are already in play…and all targeted at our business audience. We have been the major sponsor of the Telegraph’s ‘The Business of London 2012’ for 18 months, we’ve been running exclusive interactive webinars with Olympic athletes over Webex for our customers (The Cisco London 2012 Interview Series) and our London 2012 themed study program in Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering in partnership with the Pearson Foundation has just gone live in 4000 UK senior schools.
Over the next few weeks we will see the launch of additional advertising in other national and technology media, new innovative campaigns leveraging social media and the launch of our BIG Awards to help find the technology start-ups of the future, to name but a few. And our activities will continue to increase all the way up the Games and beyond.
And every day I feel inspired by my team, our extended marketing team with colleagues in the US and across the globe and the individuals in our marketing partners who are turning our strategy into reality. Like the young Olympians and Paralympians that we are so privileged to meet in our line of work, these individuals bring energy, professionalism and continually challenge themselves to deliver exceptional work that sets new standards for Cisco.
As to my own sporting inspiration? Today I received a photograph in the post of myself at a golf day with former Olympic multi-time Gold medalist, Sir Steve Redgrave, a living legend. I am inspired to become fitter, leaner or next time to ‘breathe in’ before they take the photo.