While all the action in the last few days has been focused on just who would carry the Australian flag at the Opening Ceremony, the global interest has been in the event itself.
And why not. An Olympic Opening Ceremony should be one of the must see’s of life. It certainly is on my list. The money spent on one is probably the same as the Australian Government will spend on promoting female sport in a decade. Tens of millions. Well 27 million pounds.
And although they go for a bum numbing 3 hours plus, they are really worth the watch. Well okay, maybe not the bit of 190+ countries walking into the stadium, other than Australia, the UK and the lone athlete from the South Sudan, Guor Marial, whose nation is so new they don’t yet have an Olympic Committee so will be one of just 4 athletes to compete under the Olympic flag.
No, the bit I love about the Opening Ceremony is the entertainment. Next time you want to plan a dinner party, wedding or anything else then you’ll want to watch this to see how to keep people across different cultures, backgrounds and standards of royalty entertained for hours. This is it. The gold medal winning event of the PR world. The others are just dreaming!
Firstly, there is the actual 8-10 minute mini-historical pieces. Forget Lara Bingle and slogans that helped her more than the campaign she was in, these mini pieces are tourism branding done at a champagne level.
And in this day of age of spoilers thanks to the net that ruin many other events or shows, if you are watching it live it really is the case of “what’s next?!! what’s next?!!” That said I will not be up in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning watching the event, that’s what they invented DVR’s for.
Speeches. I hate long ones. And thankfully in the Opening Ceremony they are kept to the minimum of about 5-7 minutes each. If only the Budget speech was that short, more of us would love economics!
With speeches kept to the bare minimum, onto the real star of any Opening Ceremony, the flame.
Normally seeing a naked flame in a stadium of 100,000 people is cause for alarm and calling the fire brigade quick smart, but in what I imagine will be a darkened stadium, seeing the final torch bearers carry that flame and knowing that will be one of the most special events ever in their lives, is what the Olympic movement is about to so many of us.
Then of course the moment of the Opening Ceremony. Just who will be the final torch bearer and how will they light the flame. Over time this has evolved with the marketing, branding and sheer spectacle that is now the Olympics. Although that said, very hard to go past Cathy Freeman and Sydney in 2000. Just amazing.
Finally the big names in music. Danny Boyle, Opening Ceremony Director and director of movies such as Underworld, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours and zombie classic 28 Days Later, has been working with Underworld to create a playlist of names so big that they could only be in the Olympics.
No other event has the brand pull to the biggest names in music, who have done and played it all, to get them to play this event for free. After all think of the billions of consumers on planet Earth, especially the ones in developing markets, who get to see your brand free of any censorship or messy deals with promoters!
To those in the stadium, especially the athletes, this is the bit they love. Chilling out to the Chemical Brothers, the Rolling Stones (hey! they are not the Strolling Bones!), the remaining Beatle who likes performing, Paul McCartney and U2 to just name a few I’m Gen X enough to recall. My money is on Paul McCartney playing the final song of the ceremony, U2 to play a new track for the Olympics, or maybe a sporty version of Vertigo.
The worst bit? Ad breaks will be insane. We can be lucky that our timezone will kill the length and frequency of the ad breaks during the live feed, but the replay should have a healthy dose. And why not. The Olympic Games are really the Sports Marketing Games. The Opening Ceremony is watched by billions! That’s billions! Forget the 4.5 million who watched the State of Origin final game this year, this is on a global viewing numbers scale nothing matches in the TV world. That equals lots of consumers doing the one thing at the one time on Earth. Watching television. Let the Games begin!!!!