Unity, Pride, Inspiration and Belief: How Team GB Won the Hearts of a Nation
This week’s celebratory parades in Manchester and London saw an outpouring of national pride and emotion following the success of Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The positive feelings towards our Olympic athletes will also benefit the brands associated with Team GB and provides some lessons for other advertisers looking to capture the spirit of sporting success that surrounds the team.
Working with the British Olympic Association, krow communications commissioned YouGov research into how Team GB, and its sponsors, rated in the hearts and minds of the British public.
The mission began in 2014, when Team GB asked krow to establish how it had fared following the astonishing success in the London 2012 Olympic Games, and how it could build a strong public image in the run up to Rio rather than rely on past glories.
This resulted in the new brand positioning for Team GB, “Believe in extraordinary”, and inspired direct action from people, with one in three saying it has made them more active. Overall, more than 1 million participated in the I AM TEAM GB national sports day which took place just after the Games when the team returned home.
The research (surveying 2,000 British people over 6 waves from 2014 to 2016), reveals that the British public have taken Team GB even more closely to their hearts, making them the most loved sports team in the UK - an impressive feat when you consider the outpouring of positivity following London 2012.
Following the record-breaking haul of 67 medals in Rio, the research showed that British public support for Team GB is at an all time high.
Nearly eight out of 10 people watched Team GB competing, with seven out of 10 actually showing their support, whether that was a shout out on social media, talking to family and friends about them or by wearing Team GB bahia bands.
The research found that the overwhelming emotion generated by Team GB is pride and that the majority of British people both love and believe in their national team.
It also showed Team GB has already changed the focus of the next generation of fans’ admiration, with seven out of 10 young people saying that Team GB athletes have replaced footballers and music stars as role models. Athletes are deemed to be more approachable due to their humility and hard work, and older fans see them as examples in the sense that they are rewarded for their effort and commitment.
When it came to brands that sponsor Team GB, there was good news for Aldi who, as a new sponsor in 2015, saw huge growth in their sponsorship awareness. British Airways also succeeded in cementing their position as a key Team GB sponsor as they brought the team home in their #victoRIOus branded plane. DFS saw success with their #GreatBrits campaign, which saw them weave their brand narrative into the Team GB story. Nissan also gave fans a behind the scenes insight as they ran a series of short films as part of the #DoItForUs campaign. Fitness First challenged fans to see what sport they would be most suited to in their Sports Profiler quiz, resulting in 95k completions and 10million people reached through their social campaign.
Some 70% of respondents said Team GB unites and inspires people and reflects the diversity of modern Britain. In addition, almost eight out of 10 people think Team GB is a great example of how hard work and determination can lead to success. And there are signs this is motivating the population to identify their own personal goals. Nearly one in three claim to have become more active in some way themselves or with their family since Rio and one in 10 have set a personal goal.
Support for Team GB is set to continue, with 68 per cent of people likely to follow Team GB at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang in 2018 or the Summer Games in Tokyo in 2020. One in two intend to support Team GB at Pyeongchang and nearly seven out of 10 will support them at Tokyo.
There were more learnings for brands looking to capitalise on the success of Team GB, in that athletes’ back stories were revealed as the most interesting aspect of the team, with half of all people surveyed saying they have been inspired by Team GB and that Team GB appeals to them more than other sporting teams.
The exploits of Team GB also allow Brits to feel patriotic without the baggage. People are more inclined to root for Team GB than other teams because, while its members are seen as extraordinary athletes, they are also identified with as ordinary people. That in itself, is something the UK can be truly proud of.
British Olympic Association CEO Bill Sweeney said: “The success Team GB enjoyed during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was incredible and it was matched by the fantastic support enjoyed by the athletes in Rio and back home in the UK.
“Team GB has a unique ability to bring the country together and these Games proved that once more and was emphasised again as the people of Manchester and London came out to support their Olympic heroes.
“Working with Krow has enabled us to deliver research that gives us invaluable insights into our brand and enables us to work closely with our partners to build meaningful and engaging campaigns.”
Key Team GB social stats from Rio 2016 Games:
• Facebook overall reach – 502 million
• Twitter Impressions 163 million – second only to Team USA
• No. of times hashtags were used on Twitter: #TeamGB 550K, #BringOnTheGreat 250K and #IAmTeamGB 150K
• Total video views across channels 26,391,070
• 368k Team GB App downloads
• Team GB Fan base of c. 3 million people across our social channels