Marketing The Olympics To Chicagoans

Posted by on Oct 5, 2009 in Business, Marketing | No Comments

Jason Fried of 37signals, a Chicago resident, and small business owner has an interesting and spot on take on why the city saw local public opinion erode for hosting the 2016 Olympics.

As as Chicagoan, I’ve seen the campaign close up. A recent poll suggests Chicago citizens are about equally split on whether or not they want the games. The results show slippage from the 2-to-1 support found in an earlier Tribune poll in February.

I think this reveals a flaw in the local marketing of the games. And I think there’s a good lesson in all this: Chicago sold the features, not the benefits. Chicago didn’t tell its citizens why the games would be good for Chicago. Chicago didn’t lay out the lasting legacy of the games for the city. What’s really in it for us? Why should we really support it? What happens after they are over? 8 years of work for a few weeks of sunshine. Then what?

This is a bit of Friday-morning quarterbacking, but here’s what I would have loved to have seen: A campaign centered around Chicago 2017. Show us what the city will look like after the Olympics. Give us a reason to want the games for the decade after the games. Give us examples… If a kid’s 16 years old today, what will the city be like for her when she’s 26? How will the games make Chicago a better place for Chicagoans. Will it be a better place to grow up? Why? Will it be a better place to work? Why? Why would we want to put up with all the construction, traffic, congestion, and attention? Why will it all be worth it?

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