This summer has demonstrated the unique power of sport to change people's beliefs and behaviours, something that has not been lost on marketing and PR professionals.
Myriad disability charities are trying to use the Paralympics to change public perceptions. They are featuring athletes in their campaigns and creating stunts around the Games, which they see as a rare opportunity – this is, after all, the second largest sporting event ever held in Britain – to get their messages across.
Even David Abraham, CEO of Channel 4, the official broadcaster of the Paralympics, said it wanted rights because "we saw it is an opportunity to change attitudes and minds about disability". But he also admits showing this sporting event was a way of changing perceptions about Channel 4, bringing it closer to the hearts of viewers.
He said: "It plays to the core [of Channel 4's public service broadcasting remit]."
Indeed many brands, marketing groups – even whole nations – are clocking the awesome muscle of sports marketing.
Last week, announcing its annual results, marketing services group Chime said it planned to transform itself "from a diversified group with an emphasis on public relations, into an international communications and sports marketing group". CEO Chris Satterthwaite told me London 2012 alone had increased the group's income by 64 per cent this year and that he would make further big acquisitions in sports marketing.
In a world of fragmented communications, sports offer compelling and unique global content. Two-thirds of the planet watch the Olympics, nearly half watch the English Football Premier League. Few other forms of content – even blockbuster movies – can engage consumers in such a way.
TV red buttons and hand-held devices such as smartphones and iPads have turbo-charged the engagement of the individual consumer. People no longer just consume sport, they share it with one another via video or social media chat.
Undoubtedly sport is changing the world. One just hopes it is the just and healthy causes that will best appropriate this marketing potential.
Danny Rogers is editor of PR WeekReuse content