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Think BR: Have we forgotten the Olympic legacy already?

Keep it simple, stupid - it's something I've heard far too many times to count, but rarely is it an easy ideal to keep to, writes Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko.

Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

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It seems only yesterday that we were applauding the remarkable spirit of the purple people who made the Olympic Games so memorable for all of us who were lucky enough to attend.

Amid the hysteria and jubilation, we asked the question of whether the enthusiasm for volunteering would see a positive knock-on effect and spark an upsurge in people willing to donate free time for anything and everything - charity, good causes, and local initiatives.

To an extent, it did actually happen with reports emerging of uplifts in participation, but whether this will stand the test of time still remains to be seen.

However, with Christmas fast approaching, it seems many brands have all too quickly had their heads turned by the latest in-vogue channel - this year being mobile.

With all this new technology emerging and evolving, us marketers watch on with curiosity and intrigue as we try to discern whether it’s something that could positively affect profit margins - and therefore worthwhile investing in. 

I’m by no means a technophobe, in fact we pride ourselves at Gekko on being at the forefront when it comes to successfully integrating technology in order to drive effectiveness and enhance our services. But as it’s been preached time and time again, technology shouldn’t be the starting point; new channels should be investigated and researched in order to discern its merits.

How do we, as marketers, successfully make the most of this channel? Or perhaps, more cynically, how do we ensure our brand isn’t missing a trick and losing a step to our rivals?

Mobile is no doubt an incredibly important channel with the prevalence of tablets, but to elevate it above all others is to forget the crucial lesson, one that’s repeatedly stood the test of time and one that we should have learned from the Olympics: there’s no substitute for the human element.

It’s natural in the marketing environment to cast sideways glances at what competitors are doing, but these factors only amount to distractions that take you away from the real questions brands should asking themselves - how they can gain consumer trust and instil brand values that resonate beyond a single transaction?

An app may be highly useful in creating a positive reaction from a consumer, but compare that to a positive in-store experience from floor staff who have successfully give that consumer the confidence to make a purchasing decision, as well as the personal engagement we all cherish as social beings, whether we like to admit it or not.

The Olympic Games were a brilliant success, due in no small part to the years of planning and design that went into putting an infrastructure in place that ensured nothing impeded the positive sentiment.

The trains ran on time, the queues were negligible and the park was fabulous. But what we all remember was how that was brought to life by the sheer enthusiasm of the people staffing the Games. We remember how they made us feel, how they brought happiness where we did not expect to find it.

The Games Makers could have been merely the human embodiment of the draconian, unemotional, profit-driven Olympic movement that was portrayed so frequently in the media prior to the Games - telling us what we couldn’t do and 'towing the corporate line'.

Instead, we found human beings we could relate to, ones that were more worried about contributing to our good times rather than nitpicking over red tape and fretting about the threat of ambush marketing.

That’s the real lesson brands should be learning as Christmas approaches. By no means am I saying disregard other channels in favour of experiential or field marketing, just as I believe both shouldn’t be marginalised by an infatuation with what’s new.

Simply put, invest in your people and make sure you provide that wonderful, unexpected experience to your customers that they will remember long after the festive period is over for another year.

Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

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