Rio 2016 seems to be in trouble. For that matter, World Cup, in Brazil this year, is making FIFA apoplectic if the reports are to be believed. Missed deadlines, questionable working conditions (eight people are dead due to construction accidents already) and mounting budgetary overages are the only stories on the wire these days. In fact, according to a (hotly denied) report in London’s Evening Standard, the International Olympic Committee has quietly inquired about whether the venues used in the 2012 Summer Games could host another Olympics in 2016—just in case.
A reassignment of the venue is unlikely. But we know that the prospect of a volatile or unstable event platform does not exactly inspire confidence. So to help you progress from panic to planning, we sat down with Jan Katzoff, head of global sports and entertainment at GMR Marketing, who’s handled Olympic sponsorships for major brands for decades, including upcoming activations for Procter & Gamble, Visa, GE and Ernst & Young in Rio in 2016. His tips:
1. Heighten contingencies.
You think you already do this. Well triple everything and you’re almost ready. Your crisis management and security teams will have to bulk up big time. Stock up on generators; be ready to build a modular structure that can move at moment’s notice. Plan. For. Everything. To. Fail. “We’re evaluating the locations where we planned to activate, pushing the hotels to improve their staff and bringing in third party experts to evaluate our preparations to make sure we don’t miss anything,” Katzoff says.
2. Worry about what you can control.
You and your agency will make key decisions that can make the possibility of future failure feel faint. Choose activation sites and venues where you can control the entire environment so that you aren’t relying on questionable utilities or outside people to work effectively. Have more conversations with the IOC and local organizers than you ever thought was necessary, just to make sure everything’s going according to plan. Re-evaluate staffing plans and add more people. “If under normal circumstances you’d feel well-staffed, you’re not,” Katzoff says. “Add more locals and bring in your senior staff so you have experts on hand to deal with changing situations on the fly.”
3. It’s all about the Pentiums, baby.
Bring your IT department. Probably all of them. Install your own lines if you can, give everyone a satellite phone so you can keep in touch and don’t forget to monitor the local social media channels—you’ll find out what’s really going on a heck of a lot faster on Twitter than on Brazil’s News Leader.
4. Keep on keepin’ on.
Katzoff says that the real secret is to just do what you’d normally do, except better. Move along the timeline, meet the deadlines and just watch for danger ahead. “You know how to do this, so do the stuff you can do and you’ll be able to keep an eye on the temperature of the situation and be able to tell if something is going wrong,” Katzoff says.
5. Insurance is actually no biggie.
Katzoff says your regular general liability coverage is likely fine, but says he’s added a few additional riders for medical services for staff and clients and made provisions for additional security, but in all, the situation hasn’t had a substantive impact on overall corporate liability. So that’s good.
Keep this stuff in mind and you’re well on your way to a peaceful summer games in 2016. And maybe we’ll see you on Ipanema Beach.