Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Branding specialist Chris Dobson believes that the drama over the Commonwealth Games is creating a compelling and much-needed spectacle for apathetic audiences.

The Australia-based brand strategist - Dobson works for Imagination Sydney - believes that the current dramas over staging the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, may actually supply a level of interest, which the Games have been missing for some time.

Dobson suggests that in terms of viewer and media partner engagement, the Commonwealth Games has been in worrying decline for a number of years. Facing competition from the bi-annual World Championships plus the new, glitzy Diamond League events, some audiences regard the Games as a third tier and anarchic sporting tournament.

Dobson points to news that the Delhi Games are the first that would not be attended by the Queen since Kingston, Jamaica in 1966. Subsequently, he concludes that even the Games matriarch seems bored with this sporting expression of an old colonial legacy.

And Dobson believes these factors have significantly undermined perceptions of the Commonwealth Games as an events brand.

Yet Dobson has cautiously welcomed the current dramas over unstable structures and unsanitary accommodation, as he senses that they are providing a welcome 'shot-in-the-arm' in terms of media profile and publicity.

Without subscribing to the 'any publicity is good publicity' for the Games fallacy, Dobson encourages critics to make one important distinction: and that is of the Games as a sporting spectacle versus the role of the Games as a global marketing campaign for the host country.

India invested several billion dollars to host the Games in order to announce their arrival on the world stage as a solid, maturing economic power. With threatened team walkouts, India is left looking like a disorganised, inept nation with quality, labour and planning issues.

But India's problems, might be the Games' godsend, Dobson insists. What the Games now get is an almost unparalleled amount of pre-event publicity that compels audiences to tune in and see what happens. Dobson explains:

"We all love a cliffhanger, and Delhi 2010 has turned into a huge soap opera. Many people will now be tuning in just to see if the springboard breaks, or if the weighlifter falls through the temporary floor - we finally have a compelling reason to watch and I, for one, am willing India to get it right."

With wider audiences now tuning in, it now falls to the athletes, says Dobson. If they perform and turn this Games into an intriguing battle, then people will enjoy the experience and they will come back, providing a much needed opportunity to have people fall back in love with the Commonwealth Games.

While Dobson concedes that the bad publicity is detrimental for India's commercial and logistical reputation, he insists that the amount of pre-event publicity could be exactly what is needed to pull the Commonwealth Games back from the brink of irrelevance.


Delhi games, Commonwealth Games, India, infrastructure, Chris Dobson, Imagination Sydney



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