Olympic Sponsors Brand Heathrow Airport

by Ray Ally on July 26, 2012

Photos: Ray Ally

I’ve just flown into Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Five and was surprised by the lack of Olympic branding at the airport. Considering it’s the host airport for the games I think the organisers have missed a big opportunity. As when athletes, spectators and tourists arrive from around the world, the airport is the first point of touch of the games.

This could be due to several reasons; a lack of vision from the organisers, restrictions from the airport or insufficient funds for promotional activities. However, more likely it’s a strategy to earn money from the Olympic sponsors who have taken up all the media space available at the airport.

While sponsorship is important for the Olympics I think there is a balance to be made. In between the messages of the sponsors to associate themselves with the games and those that the Olympic organisation wants to communicate. In the case of London 2012, its message of the “legacy games that inspires a generation” has been drowned out by big money advertising.

BP, Panasonic and especially Visa have done a good job in branding Heathrow airport. Ensuring they are the first images that arriving athletes and visitors see and owning the first moment of the games. The ads are in the spirit of the Olympics and sportingly feature some of the stars like Usain Bolt and Phillips Idowu from team GB.

The Olympic sponsors have dominated at the airport, but I hope the London 2012 message comes thorough stronger at the main Olympic venues. Money is important in sport, but it should not overshadow the message and values that the Olympics stand for.

The London Olympics needs to inspire a new generation to the benefits that sport can bring for the individual and to society as a whole. And that in part, is what the Olympic rings logo hanging in the arrivals hall should stand for.

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