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Olympics-driven business trends

August 05, 2012

Speaking in terms of economics, London Olympics 2012 has provided opportunities to numerous businesses and employment to 40,000 Brits. It also lifted the mood of demoralised people in a recession-hit world.

The real size of Olympic business in 2012 has yet to emerge but the experts believe that the economic impact will go beyond the related investment in social and physical infrastructure of London.

The intensity of economic impact on countries other than the UK would primarily depend on the level of their participation and the interest of their people in sports in general and Olympics in particular.

“How well countries like China, the US, Australia and Japan transform the interest generated by their sports persons into economic benefits depends on a variety of factors but mostly on entrepreneurial skills,” he said.

The Pakistan squad in the Olympics 2012 is relatively small. Keeping the limited participation and the low level of mobilisation the brand campaigns were developed around Ramazan and Independence Day falling next week.

For Pakistan, therefore, Olympics may pass as a non-event unless its participating hockey team somehow manages to outperform favourites in initial rounds to become a serious contender for a place on the winners’ stand.

“In that case public hype can be built but it would then be too late for any serious investment by companies, apart from facilitation messages in the print and the electronic media”.

The airing rights were secured by the state-run national television and the private channels depend on brief packages based on highlights that they air in their news bulletins.

The market players and marketing companies confirm that the viewership of Olympics in Pakistan is marginally higher than their expectations. “The urban youth, it is stated, is following almost all games”.

“Olympics were lost to the rush of scheduled annual advertising campaigns at this time of the year”, a senior player in the field told Dawn over telephone.

No one in major media houses was ready to give the details of how the sports events are woven in their market strategy and if the expected gains, could be quantified. Many relevant people told Dawn that stakes in sports in Pakistan, like the rest of the world, have risen vertically.

“We are talking in terms of millions if not billions already”.

The market watchers, however, believe that telecom firms, banks etc might try to nab the opportunity of launching campaigns hurriedly if they see hype building up around Olympics even at this stage.

“Advertising companies, always on their toes, are monitoring developments closely.

Experts attribute the lack of public interest in Olympics to two key factors: one, weak national representation in the grand sports event and two, the clash of Olympics with Ramazan.

“An event can only grab national attention if people can identify with the play and the player. You need heroes to project a concept or a product. You cannot pluck them of trees. The country will need to develop policies to promote sports on standard competitive lines for us to be a noticeable side in Olympics.

“Some sporty people are watching games for joy but the viewership is a fraction of what it is for football. The cricket economy is much larger”, a marketing guru said over phone.

“It is unfortunate that Olympics this year fell in the holy month when the routine of the majority of TV viewers changed. The religious and cultural preoccupations spare people lesser time to watch TV and pursue other interests”, he explained the apathy towards Olympics in Pakistan.

“The commercial interest capitalises on public attention these events command. The whole business of the airing rights, creating related advertising campaigns and entering the ring to compete to emerge as a brand associated with a popular sport rests on projection of societal attitudes. It is, therefore, rather tricky”.

“It is inspiring to watch young athletes push limits of excellence. The global sports event did attract the young, however, it failed to excite general public and hence a lacklustre corporate response”, commented another advertising specialist.

The world over sports is a huge business. Beside sport gadgets for sportsmen there is a whole range of merchandise related to sports and sport celebrities making big business in the market. The live coverage of many sports through television and internet has expanded the global market.

The actual economic impact of Olympics 2012 will surface after the closing of the event. The impact assessments of the past games give some clue. In Sydney in 2000 and Athens 2004, for example, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to gross domestic product in Australia and Greece rose by 18.3 and 12 per cent, respectively. The year 2008 saw the contribution of travel and tourism in China after the Beijing Games increase by only 6.4 per cent.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, in a recent speech said he expects about 100 new companies to enter his city, initially creating about 3000 jobs and generating $548 million worth of economic benefit.