Q&A with Octagon: An Interview with Senior Vice President, Nick Griffith
In what ways have your/your clients’ work been impacted by COVID-19 and how have you responded?
Most of my clients are sponsors of an Olympic Games and/or National Olympic Team. As the pandemic spread, our clients shifted from planning for half a dozen scenarios ranging from postponement to cancellation to planning for a confirmed Games in July/August 2021. But, at least we have a precise timeframe to plan against! Most marketers are still wondering, for example, whether the NBA will finish their season or when baseball season will finally begin.
One major issue for clients is allocating sufficient budgets to take advantage of another year of rights to the Games. Olympic officials are now working through how to approach rights fees, assuming their partners’ contracts are extended for another year. This is a new situation for everyone, and I think each sponsorship contract will be handled differently based on what Olympic officials can offer and what the sponsors will want to do. We are helping our clients work through this process now.
On top of potential rights fees, we are working with our clients to determine what cost savings they can find this year and shift to next year. Some won’t be able to recoup already sunk costs and deposits, so this could certainly impact their 2021 activation plans and expected business results. Others may find additional value in this rare opportunity to extend the period of time they can market their brands around the Olympics.
Are there any stand-out initiatives you’ve seen or brands you think have reacted to the situation positively?
I appreciate the brands which are supporting workers in their respective industries, e.g. Johnson & Johnson committing millions of dollars to recruit and train frontline healthcare workers. I also appreciate brands which are leveraging their sports & entertainment partnerships to support efforts to battle the pandemic, e.g. AB InBev is working with teams they sponsor to identify arenas and stadiums that can be used for temporary blood drive centers.
What do you think marketing will look like for you/your clients post COVID-19?
Passion for the Olympics is always strong, and should likely be the same even after a one year delay. In 2020, the Games would have served as an oasis following this turbulent time in the country and world, not to mention during a contentious election year, as it would have been positioned between two political conventions. However, it’s possible interest could be higher in 2021, as fans will continue to crave the inspiring stories the Olympics deliver.
How has the new normal of social distancing and self-isolation prompted you to get creative and think outside the box?
We work with multiple clients in technology and other industries that bring people together. Now that working from home is an ongoing imperative for so many people these days, their products and services are critical. We’re developing ideas to generate awareness and adoption for their offerings leveraging existing and prospective Olympic & Paralympic athlete relationships, particularly now that the next Games won’t happen for another 16 months.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do once the lockdown is over?
Every summer, I love travelling the country attending Minor League Baseball games. I was planning to visit several towns around the country in 2020. Assuming they’re able to pull off a season, teams based in Madison, AL, Colorado Springs, CO and Fredericksburg, VA as well as my hometown of Norwich, CT are at the top of my list.