Well, we did it. London 2012 is officially a success. The trains worked for once, coping with the huge extra burden, the stadiums were almost full (no thanks in part to a ticketing system that struggled to cope most of the time), the ceremonies were spectacular, and TeamGB brought home gold. Plenty of gold. There will be a lot of talk in coming months and years about what legacy the Games will have left us with, but for the young generation of today, their immediate legacy is having new heroes.
The talk on the playground when the schools go back next month will be of Jessica Ennis, Laura Trott and Sir Chris Hoy. No longer will cycling to school be a chore if you can pretend to be Bradley Wiggins; football pitches up and down the nation will be filled with people doing the “Mobot” in celebration of our newest long-distance running legend Mo Farah, and when we hire that pedalo on the Costa del Sol who won’t pretend to be Ben Ainsle?
All of this success doesn’t come without some planning and preparation. Athletes should be conditioned to peak at the right time, and in most instances (football and tennis aside), the Olympics are the pinnacle of their careers. Hitting the best form of their life is what all of their training is about. But what about their off the field preparations?
There is no doubt that some of the successful athletes will become very wealthy indeed off the back of their achievements, through endorsements and sponsorship. Big brands clamor for role models to promote their products and services to audiences they previously didn’t think they could reach. In the wake of his popularity captaining England, David Beckham became the face of Brylcreem, a brand that was the essential male grooming product post war. All of a sudden it became very popular with the younger generation again. That is the power of the right face on the right product.
Jessica Ennis is undoubtedly one of the most marketable faces of TeamGB. I expect to see her radiant smile beaming out across the nation in the near future, promoting products and services that she now “uses”. But what about “brand Ennis”? What preparation has she (or her advisors) put into any expectation of success? We live in an online world, and so the first port of call for most surfers would be to search for her official site. Unfortunately, jessicaennis.com has been registered for some time by a Set Design consultant. Jessennis.com does not resolve to any website; her official site is jessicaennis.net. Potential for confusion? Certainly if the owner of the jessennis.com domain name decides to build a website claiming to be her.
Bradley Wiggins has had an amazing few months. After becoming the first Englishman to win the Tour de France he brought home Olympic Gold in the Time Trial. But he was too slow on the peddles to register Bradleywiggins.com, which currently forwards to a parked page containing sponsored advertising. It seems to be a trend for the stars of the Velodrome as Victoriapendleton.com also goes to a similar page as Bradley’s.
Most athletes have some domain names that are associated to their official websites. .Co.uk domain names seem to be very popular, but now they have moved into a different marketing world, can they afford the potential brand confusion?
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail goes the old saying”, and this is evident when we look at the online “brands” of our successful Olympians. For such marketable assets can they afford to be associated with unsuitable brands, products or services? This is the danger of someone cybersquatting a brand. And in this instance the brand is an individual.
Four years ago after the success of the Beijing Games, the preparation started in earnest for today. At that point the brand building for the hottest prospects should have started. For some of the London 2012 winners it appears that the online presence is only just being built. Today, TeamGB, its athletes and the advisors who have done such a great job up until now need to start planning for Rio 2016. An investment today in an online presence for some of our hottest prospects will reap benefits in four years time when we are again celebrating why it is so great to be British.
Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Communications, NetNames
15 August 2012