We can leverage on the Olympics to promote Kenya as a brand

Any publicity is good publicity and despite the best performance in Kenya’s history at the Olympics we’ve received olympic-size negative coverage around how we treat athletes. I’d rather spend time congratulating our team for their wins, and moving up to fifteenth from twenty eighth on the medal table compared to 2012. They came only second to the US in track and field medals and topped the African countries overall and I think that is what should be trending on social media rather than the shenanigans of our sports administrators.

We’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as we fill airwaves with negative stuff and miss the opportunity to promote the country. Make a search on Google with key words ‘Kenya Olympics’, click on news and see what I’m talking about. It made me cringe!

Back to the team — the heart and spirit they displayed was truly inspiring and to know that raw talent and grit pushes them over challenges and to immeasurable success is admirable. They represent us all and their values of diligence, focus and good will should really bring us closer as a nation, because thats one of the things that sports can do. Last Friday I saw my neighbours teenage son throwing a javelin all afternoon, obviously inspired by Julius Yego and it reminded me that our champions inspire generations to come in ways that education, religion and government directives cannot.

The Olympics offers excellent visibility because approximately 3.6 billion people tuned in to watch 6,000 hours of it on television this year. NBC paid $1.2 billion for the broadcasting rights and up to the start of the games, they had already received $1 billion back in advertising. Smart companies like Coca-Cola utilise these great events to build their brands and they have sponsored the Olympics for 20 years straight, making them the longest standing sponsor.

Without spending a cent on advertising our champions have given Kenya the most incredible airtime ever on the world stage! This begs for a communication strategy around our sports teams to promote the country as part of a bigger strategy to prepare our athletes to win, the main reason for our recognition. The benefits for tourism, foreign investment and thus our domestic economy are massive and it should be a government priority with a budget to match.

Our Olympic qualifier track and field events alone have the potential to get global attention with huge numbers of foreign travellers and local spectators attending, because the worlds best in long distance running are competing against each other locally. That opens up superb opportunities for advertising and sponsorship, the proceeds of which can go into supporting our athletes and promoting the benefits of sports in schools. Major sporting countries have their biggest fans at home because of easy access and high opportunity-to-view and we can adopt similar techniques to create the star-effect for our champs, fuelling the fight in them.

It requires an internal marketing campaign that not only gets stadiums filled and money flowing, but also gets our head teachers incorporating more sports in schools and parents encouraging talented children to do their best. Our media and social media influencers can then have positive content to cover so that we can replace the negative tone of Kenyan news at the moment with appealing stories and winning visuals. The biggest effect though, comes from our social media subscribers who post tremendous amounts for content everyday, creating trends at will, and their support would get Kenya trending regularly for the right reasons.

We can plan major media campaigns immediately following global sporting events in order to leverage on the positive vibe lingering after our champs get home, with the message strategy around that kept simple and focused on our winners.

We know the World Cup is the most viewed event, so strategies around getting our boys to Russia in 2018 or Qatar in 2022 must be pursued for the same reasons. This can’t be done on a wing and a prayer, so a significant budget has to be allocated by the government to underwrite it with the support of sponsors, advertisers and income from well organised spectator events.

Last Friday I heard a former athlete say that if she was given a chance to compete for another country and take up their citizenship, she would do it without blinking. This sentiment is not going to change soon, but it will take the effort of all to bring a positive spin into our Olympic performance. So before your next tweet, post or article, ask yourself whether it adds to the list of positive stories or the list of negative ones.

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