Rio Olympics and City Branding
My post from early 2013 — The same today (with some adjustments)
In January, 19th 2013 I published a post with the following tittle
Are the Olympics worth it?
Everyone is talking about Rio and the Olympics. But is really worth it?
Here it goes again and “untouched”
Global events are great opportunities for countries to change their image.
At least, countries seem to view them as great opportunities. The Olympics always create a lot of controversy and a lot of press. Everyone wants to host them and be part of the games, especially during the medal ceremonies.
That’s because countries believe that the Olympics really boost their image as a nation. They think that being in the world spotlight for two weeks is going to have a major impact on their reputation and economy.
But are the Olympics really good for countries? Does it create a long term impact?
For the Olympics to really make an impact, you need to have it at the right time. You need to show off changes in your country that the world has never seen before. And you need to make sure that whatever you want to show off is visible from every angle in the city.
I have to add that the Olympics can only make a tourism impact. Nothing else. All your efforts will go to tourism increase. Not because of the event itself, but because of the images that you see.
The preparations can have economic impact, in terms of infrastructure, but the results will all go towards tourism. You need to analyze and see if, as a country, the Olympics are worth it. Do you really need it? Will the changed image increase tourism in the future? Generally, the answer is no.
But what about the next Olympics in 2016?
Brazil will be hosting the 2016 Olympics. Is this a good idea for Brazil? Will it be worth it?
Definitely. It is so important because Brazil is now known for hostility, insecurity and social imbalances. Tourists are afraid to travel there because of favelas, the notorious Brazilians slums. The Olympics can do a very important task of setting up good infrastructure and showing how far Brazil has improved. It will benefit Rio, and Rio really needed it. I think it will be extremely beneficial in the future.
The Brazilian Olympics will help to revert Rio’s perceptions of insecurity
What other countries/cities could benefit from the Olympics? Not Madrid! The city simply doesn’t need it. It already has a strong tourism industry, and honestly, it doesn’t need to spend the money right now.
Lima and Bogotá could benefit from the Olympics, as well as any City or Country that has been changing and improving in recent years. They need a platform to show off these changes. Countries are starting to evolve. If a country is ready to be a world player and has a somewhat bad reputation, they need this kind of event to give a push to show they are ok. Any city in the developed world doesn’t need it. Because they have it already. So it’s ok.
Events can definitely help position a country and improve perceptions. But like I said, most countries don’t really need sports. Unless you want to unveil some great changes that have happened to your country and you’ve really tied to the event to your country, don’t even bother. Don’t bother unless you’re going to really own it. Otherwise, the return is just too little.
And in terms of investing in sports to rack up the medal count? The return is even smaller. Having said that everyone wants to be on the winning team. It’s human! So even though it is very unreliable, I have to admit I would definitely invest in sports if I were a political leader.
Don’t forget, events like the Olympics and World Cup are only going to help you on the tourism side. Forget about anything else.
If you want investments and trade boos t from events, go for “boring”. You need the serious, socially conscious stuff: economics, human rights, the environment. We all want to know that your country is invested in the future. Maybe it’s not as cool as winning a World Cup, but hey, it’s still a pretty big deal.
Aside from the bad English, I would also say/reiterate that Rio and Brazil already have a reputation of insecurity, poverty (the famous slums) and many other negative things.
However this is the chance for Brazil to say, that all those things are true but not as bad as everyone thinks, and that things have changed a LOT over the last 10 years.
So, what tourists will see, what the world will read from the media wont deteriorate the perception and reputation of Rio and Brazil, they may confirm certain things, but it wont be worst… Unless “they” make it worst or a catastrophe takes place.
Now, this is the chance for Rio and Brazil to show the world, things are different, they are different, since a series of Policies, Actions and Activities took place in order to push the Country and the City forward.
I know the reality is not perfect, but it is much better than what people think it is.
Nevertheless, I think that with the recent corruption scandals, Impeachment etc, etc, the “Country” part….Difficult…. Let’s see if Rio makes it right and align perceptions with reality.