Business of sport: this will be the Twitter Olympics

By Paola Bassanese

According to the British Olympic Association’s representative Phil Wilkinson, London 2012 will be “the Twitter Olympics”. Millions will be following The Games online using social media.


On 11th July 2012 Gab Stone of sports consultancy GSE Agency  led a panel of sports experts including Olympic long jump athlete Chris Tomlinson, British Olympic Association’s communications officer Phil Wilkinson, sports marketing law expert Andy Korman of Couchmans LLP and sponsorship agent Nick Walford of Red Mandarin.


BBC sports commentator Ore Oduba  hosted and facilitated the debate.


The key points raised during the discussion were:


  • social media helps connect athletes, media and fans
  • “tweet other people how you’d like to be tweeted” (Phil Wilkinson)
  • social media helps athletes get their point across without filters and misinterpretations (Chris Tomlinson)
  • athletes have a small window of opportunity to get noticed, get sponsorship deals and get the media attention
  • minor/niche sports have to rely on creative publicity to keep audiences interested (Gab Stone)
  • “I jump into a sandpit for a living” (Chris Tomlinson)
  • media-savvy athletes will prevail over other sportspeople; if in the past big sponsorship deals were only offered to sportspeople based on looks and performance, now the focus has shifted on athletes who can communicate and engage audiences (Andy Korman)
  • brand sponsorships must understand the time commitments of athletes and what business problem they can address and solve to bring value to the partnership (Nick Walford)
Paola Bassanese with Chris Tomlinson

Gab summarised the whole debate about the business of sport comparing it to winning the X Factor: you get a window of opportunity as an athlete to get noticed to achieve commercial success and the more creative you are the more you stand out.