London lands Olympic marketing coup

London are banking on a cash bonanza from the 2012 Olympics after gaining the support from the man who helped write the International Olympic Committee (IOC) marketing handbook.

Michael Payne, who helped mastermind the IOC’s rise to a billion dollar business has agreed in principle to join London 2012 as a special consultant, according to sources within the London team.

Payne played a key role in aiding London pulling off their stunning victory over Paris 2012 in Singapore in the summer.

But it is Payne’s role in creating the IOC’s marketing department that will make him invaluable to London as they chase sponsorship money to help pay for the world’s most glittering sports show.

Last year Payne joined Formula One czar Bernie Eccelstone as special advisor. According to sources, Payne will retain his position with Eccelstone but will be available in the background, helping London get the best deal from television and sponsorship rights.

Payne left the IOC last year after becoming disgruntled about the direction the movement was taking since the retirement of Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Although Payne has never publicly criticised the IOC, a clear hint of his dissatisfaction was revealed earlier this year in his book Olympic Turn Around about how marketing turned the IOC into a massive money-making machine and secured the IOC’s future.

In the book Payne makes it clear he was concerned about possible lack of vision.

”There must be clear and decisive strategic leadership. There is a danger of retreating into the comfort zone. The IOC is not a savings bank, nor a simple administrative body.

”It must be exceptional rather than accepting mediocrity. It must also understand that decisive leadership requires long-term vision,” said Payne.

He was also fearful about the IOC’s ethics commission, created after the Salt Lake City scandal that nearly brought the movement crashing down.

Payne warns that the ethics commission now threatens to destroy the bid city process and threaten the Olympic brand image.

Several of the 2012 bid cities, including London and New York, were privately angered by some of the rulings from the commission during the campaign.

Payne insists a proper balance must be struck.

”The guidelines have become so suffocating and at times petty that there is a very real risk that cities and their governments will begin to question whether it is worth the hassle of bidding at all.

”Cities must be able to promote their candidatures — and benefit from being a candidate.

”The day when the number of cities falls to one or two candidates is the day the IOC will no longer be in the driving seat. When that happens, as Los Angeles showed in 1984, the city will dictate its own terms. That could threaten the integrity of the Olympic brand,” he wrote. – Sapa-AFP

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