As the Paralympians get ready to take centre stage in Rio, we ask some of our Ideas and Insights panel to reflect on what we’ve seen so far and how this compares to the thoughts we had at our Rio event in April this year.
Mary Thomas, Firestarter Marketing
For me it would be summed up as ‘The Have and Have Nots’. The games showcased such bittersweet contrasts – the wafer-thin gap between defeat and victory – the sheer joy of those who met or exceeded their expectations and those who didn’t – from Lutalo Muhammed’s final second gold medal loss, to Tom Daley’s semifinal drop out, the distress of the Dutch losing out to the UK in the women’s hockey – and our own teams unadulterated delight in being unexpected champions, Max Whitelocks last minute success at the expense of Louis Smith.
The ‘Have and Have Nots’, not just in terms of winning and losing, but in terms of economic prosperity and inbuilt advantages for rich nations – the Americans with their gold standard athletes programmes / hothouses – in contrast to some of the world’s poorest nations, such as Kenya, still managing to achieve medals. These contrasts create some of the most poignant Olympic moments – for example Rafaela Silva ‘Queen of the Favelas’ winning the Judo Gold is a truly humbling success story.
All of this back dropped by Brazil as host, and its own shocking contrasts, which have formed a commentary throughout the buildup and during the Games, with its own story of extremes of rich and poor, with stadiums full of empty seats, unaffordable to most of the nation’s citizens, with slums cleared for or sitting jarringly adjacent to the glamorous Olympic infrastructure.
Home and Lifestyle
Ruth Kelly, Trendbible
From the Olympics itself it was all the stories of great sportsmanship that really stood out to me! And of course GB celebrating the incredible achievement of our athletes!
Reflecting back on the trends forecast for the Spring/Summer season we saw some really lovely interpretations of the ‘Rio’ influence. I think the M&S ‘Spirit of Summer’ campaign really stood out as getting it right – a really modern, fresh interpretation influenced by South America and Central America as a geography more generally. Rather than putting an obvious and stereotypical ‘Rio’ label on everything, it’s tapped into the broader focus on that area of the world as a travel destination. The packaging design, advertising and products captured an energy that was spot on.
Joao Barufi, Brand Manager, Bosch
They pulled it together at the end, that was amazing to see!
For a while I was concerned it wouldn’t happen, as we got closer and closer and the athletes were moving to hotels I thought that would be the end.
Team GB did brilliantly and the real heroes are still to compete in the Paralympic games!
And to finish, as we say in Brazil, the party always ends up in pizza and carnival. Well, it was literally carnival. According to the FT, the budget was overrun by 51% whilst the Olympic committee publishes a total cost of USD 7.5 billion, which have made the rich minority wealthier and the poorer will have to pay the bill.
Graham McKenzie, Travelmole
So despite the recriminations, worries, self-analysis and stress before the Olympics started (which seems only too familiar in the pre-Olympics run up – who can forget the fear amongst all Londoners that the capital would grind to a halt during the summer of 2012?), in many respects Rio 2016 was no different from any other games having pre-performance nerves. The troubles here though may go a bit deeper than butterflies in the tummy.
Only a few years ago when Brazil actively sought the games they were very much top of the pops. The economy was so encouraging that they even took the lead singer role in the BRIC band. They were leading the new wave of economies set to sweep away any vestiges of old money in Europe and North America.
Yet here we are a few years later and money’s too tight to mention. Rio has set out emergency policies to avoid a catastrophic loss of essential services and the Paralympics has been cut right back.
So why hold the games? Is it National Pride? Legacy infrastructure? Maybe Tourism? Well only time will tell on the first two but for tourism, I feel the answer will sadly be no. In fact the mistakes have already been made and it’s too late baby. Too late to invite the press in advance to find out what Rio has to offer. In the years leading up to the 2012 games Visit Britain was doing its very upmost to show off all the country’s heritage both sporting and otherwise with one press and familiarisation trip after another. Scotland a few years later did likewise for the Glasgow Commonwealth games. Not so this time.
Rio and Brazil have had an opportunity to rectify the negative image in the minds of the international tourists. The 2016 games is an opportunity to help change that and bring about an increase in visitors which through their social and economic impact change lives. Sadly Rio has lost its voice and its chance.