Claire Beale on Advertising: The Olympic spirit - work for nothing!

Perhaps it was inevitable that the London Olympics body, Locog, would annoy adland. Any client whose very name revels in the notion of committee has to be trouble. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games: sounds like the sort of advertiser that wouldn't recognise great advertising if it stood on a podium waving a gold Lion.

Oh, but Locog has the dream of an advertising brief: to create the global, integrated knobs-on campaign for the 2012 Olympic Games. Ad accounts don't come more prestigious. This is a real agency-transforming, agenda-setting, career-building opportunity to make history. Not just advertising history, national history, global history. Yes, when Locog invited agencies to pitch for its account, the advertising beasts were slavering.

But there was a catch: money. Locog wanted agencies to pay them. Locog wanted to the winning agency to buy the account. Well perhaps that's a little crude and I've no doubt it was never framed that way. But Locog effectively wanted an agency that would work – in rather large part – for no fee. In return, the winning agency would be granted the status of an Olympic sponsor.

So instead of being a contest to find the agency with the best creative ideas, the Locog pitch became something of an auction, with the account going to the highest suitable bidder. For a committee whose creative track record to date centres on the embarrassment of the London 2012 logo, that's quite a risk.

Some agencies thought so too. One apparently pulled out on principle: great advertising deserves the respect of a proper fee and the Olympics needs the greatest advertising the industry can produce. Heck, the British people deserve the greatest advertising for their Olympics. Isn't that worth paying properly and responsibly for?

Other agencies, sensible of the undoubted value of the sponsorship package and the leverage that the account could give to their new business efforts, were more pragmatic. They did some calculations. In the midst of the worst recession in modern advertising history, and at the same time as making swathes of redundancies, could they afford to give work away in return for having their corporate logo in the list of official sponsors? Hmm.

Let's be clear. Agencies often work for free or at cost – generally for charities and for hard-up causes that they passionately believe in. It's usual. But Locog is not a charity. Nor is it likely to be a pathetically grateful client that's relatively easy to work for and that welcomes creative risk-taking. The Olympics account is going to be one of the most demanding, labour-intensive, scrutinised and criticised pieces of business any agency will ever be called upon to cancel its weekends for.

Yes, it might also be the most tremendously exciting, adrenaline-driving, high-profile and perhaps rewarding account ad execs will ever get the chance to work on. And being an Olympics sponsor is a tremendous opportunity. It must be, some of the world's bluest chip advertisers have signed up: Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Adidas and more. You get to have your brand associated with the biggest event in the world, watched by a global audience of billions.

So hurrah, McCann-Erickson has just won the business. I think they're pleased. Rumour is they're paying around £10m in value-in-kind resource. For that McCanns gets to show the world the global breadth and depth of its communications offering and will enjoy all the benefits of sponsorship, like the fantastic PR, networking, and corporate hospitality possibilities that can open up new business doors, cement existing client relationships and motivate staff.

There have been some mutterings about the fact that the account has gone to the US-owned McCanns rather than the other key contender, the British WPP, which, it's said, wasn't prepared to pay as much as £10m for the business. Pah. Advertising's a global business and the days for petty jingoism are long gone.

Locog may have held an unconventional pitch – and God forbid this should inspire other clients – but it has appointed a solid agency partner which will do a very respectable job. No advertising campaign will be more critically scrutinised than this Olympics work. It had better be very, very good. The critics of Locog's pitch are already loading their guns.

Best in show: Doritos(AMV BBDO)

Dodgeball: a game in which teams have to, well, dodge the balls thrown by their opponent. Far too energetic. So Doritos and its ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO bring you an online version (at Doritos.co.uk) where you fire balls at a real, live opponent who's trapped in a room in a secret location in London's East End. All you have to do is line up the balls via your computer screen. The campaign is running every day this month, and some of the UK's leading Dodgeball teams are waiting to take you on. It's a gloriously fun idea.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003