Monday 4 August 2008

FTSE - BOA initiative

The Ciy of LondonLooking forward to the start of the Beijing Olympics this weekend made me remember an initiative I noted a while back that - in the run up to the 2012 Games in London - seeks to pair FTSE-100 companies with different sports as a way of "helping them improve the effectiveness of their business delivery and performance."

There wasn't much information available on the initiative at the time, but some subsequent digging around got me thinking about how squash might follow suit ...

The British Olympic Association (BOA) website now lists a number of the Olympic sports and the British FTSE-100 companies that they are paired with (the first 10 were announced in February 2007, with more partnerships announced as they were agreed):

Corus - triathlon
Skandia - biathlon
British Gas - hockey
Land Securities - volleyball
GlaxoSmithKline - boxing
British Airways - snowsportGB
SAB Miller - fencing
Wolseley - gymnastics
Home Retail Group - badminton
Group 4 Securicor - judo
Standard Life Investments - archery
Experian - ice skating
Marks & Spencer - modern pentathlon
Accenture - sailing
O2 - taekwondo
John Lewis - equestrian
Alliance & Leicester - swimming
Sainsbury's - table tennis

The website also has downloads of media briefings for each specific partnership.

The website goes on to explain:

"The scope and focus of the individual relationships will vary from sport to sport in order to address their differing needs and the expertise available. The agreements will be between the NGBs and the individual businesses, although the overall programme will be facilitated by a Programme Director within the BOA.

The intention is for the relationships to extend up to, and potentially beyond, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in order to give the partnerships the best opportunity of making a lasting difference in this challenging and exciting period.

This programme is co-ordinated by a Project Director, Bev Salt who is on secondment to the BOA from AstraZeneca."

Most of the media briefings appear a little short on detail still, though Alliance & Leicester's partnership with swimming notes that one of the projects that they will start of with is:

"... to develop British Swimming's customer relationship management skills. To achieve this, Conrad Taggart, Head of Customer Strategy and Information at Alliance & Leicester, is sharing his specialist knowledge in database marketing and analytics."

Presumably this consultancy is being offered for free in return for the positive marketing/promotional benefits of being associated with a healthy sporting activity (and sharing in the successes of any British swimming champions).

It is ironic that a sport that a huge number of City-based FTSE-100 companies employees probably enjoy playing on a regular basis - squash - is excluded from the above list as it is not (yet!) an Olympic sport.

The idea is an innovative one, and not being an Olympic sport does not mean that squash cannot copy the model by forming such a strategic alliance.

Some might say that squash should get its own house in order before reaching out to form such a partnership. But given that squash is patently lacking in a number of the areas the initiative seeks to address, a sharing of expertise could allow the sport to reach its goals more quickly and effectively.

The new head of the PSA has a remit to address a number of the sport's deficiencies, and it was good to see that someone has been appointed who has prior experience of forming strategic partnerships.

Coupling a sport with a large business organisation to help serve its medium-long term interests is a bold initiative, and it will be interesting to watch closely to see how much help is offered in practice to the sports listed above, beyond the fine words of the media briefings. My guess is that some companies will take the initiative more seriously than others.

There are also mutual risks to bare in mind when undertaking such partnerships - a sporting drug scandal can end up tainting a partner organisation by association, or a recession can see a company pull the plug if it needs to make savings.

Who might squash partner with? A bank? A telecoms group? Send in your suggestions ...

Squash and the City (feature)
List of FTSE-100 companies

1 comment:

  1. Great Article, but especially by asking the questions, suggesting courses of actions and being balanced as to the risks involved.

    But what is the harm in reaching out?

    If a corporation can bring resources, skills, perspectives to bear to improve squash and bask in this glory, visibility, positive association and key building of relationships, linkages ... let's get on with it!

    England Squash, PSA, WISPA, WSF, senior management within a FTSE 100 company ... ANYONE listening, bold, visionary?!


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