VANOC Marketing Strategy Revealed in John Furlong Book
John Furlong, the President, CEO and vision behind the most successful Winter Olympic Games ever staged, didn’t believe in his heart that the organizing committee saw him as a serious candidate for the top position.
Turns out, not many believed his vision was realistic.
One-year after the Vancouver Olympics, Canadians are still talking about those unforgettable 17 days last February. Many believe, Canada is forever changed, for the better.
“On the eve of the interview, there was a movie about the Nagano Games showing at Science World in Vancouver,” says Furlong. “I saw it, came out and sat in my car. I didn’t feel what the higher calling was, so I went and watched it again.”
At the interview, John Furlong expressed how ferociously tough the eight competing countries would be in the bidding process. Touting how great of a city Vancouver is and how great Canada is wouldn’t win the Olympic Games, he opined.
“I told the organizing committee at the interview, ‘if we don’t make the Olympic Games about people and use this opportunity to take the Olympic spirit to the front door of every home in Canada, we will not win the Games,” expressed Furlong.
“There were many people who wanted the Games to be about Vancouver. The decision to make the Games about Canada changed everything. I know a lot of people thought we would have to pull in our expectations. The Games can go far, but only so far, people said. Wrong. They can and did go that far.”
Not long after Sidney Crosby capped the Vancouver Olympic Games with a game-winning overtime goal to give Team Canada Men’s Hockey Gold, Prime Minister Stephen Harper summed up the magnitude of Furlong’s vision:
“The Games have elevated Canada on the world stage. Mark my words, some day historians will look back at Canada's growing strength in the 21st century and they will say that it all began right here, on the West Coast, with the best Winter Olympic Games the world has ever seen.”
Marketing to Emotions
John Furlong tapped into the powerful emotion that national pride stirs up. He did it so flawlessly that he was named Canada’s Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA).
“John Furlong’s remarkable ten-year journey building, promoting and executing the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games changed our nation, galvanized Canadians from coast to coast and showcased Canada to the world. As such, it will serve as a successful marketing model for many years to come,” said CMA President and Chief Executive Officer John Gustavson.
Galvanizing Canadians nationwide behind by an event located in Vancouver required scrapping the old Olympic marketing model. Instead of selling two weeks of sport exposure, Furlong sold two weeks of participation in making Canada better.
“That was the secret. That is Vancouver’s story,” says Furlong. “We had every province and territory as an investing partner in Vancouver 2010. Newfoundland invested in Vancouver. They had artists, athletes and a house in Vancouver. They were involved in every aspect of the staging of the Games. Newfoundland is 1,500 km closer to London than Vancouver. The country wanted to do something together.”
Ultimately, John Furlong raised a record $760 million with 90 per cent of Games’ revenue coming from the private sector. At the height of the global economic recession, John Furlong appealed to the Canadian identity.
Vancouver Olympics One-Year Later
John Furlong will be in Vancouver for the Games Anniversary Weekend, February 11-13. He will promote his new book, Patriot Hearts, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and also deliver a few keynote speeches.
“I am going to remind everybody what really took place—how hard it was, the lessons, what we had to do,” explains Furlong.
“When we hold hands and stick together, the country shines. I am going to urge people to recognize this and repeat it. Our champion nation that was on display, that confidence we showed, is a powerful thing. It’s not just for sport. It’s for business. It’s in everything. We need to continue to strive for excellence.”
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”