As our plane descended over Sochi, Russia, it was almost startling to witness the amount of construction taking place in the city. The
skeletal frames of massive stadiums are beginning to push into the sky, while the looping curves of new roads stretch and wind across the cityscape. The phrase "Sochi is being transformed" is tossed around frequently when describing the changes taking place as this Russian resort city prepares to host the 2014 Olympic Games, but the word "transformed" barely does justice. Sochi is in the midst of a extraordinary revival.
It is in this regard that we can examine how the 2014 Winter Games will change the city of Sochi, both in appearance and in the future. The Olympics are frequently hailed as the world's largest sporting event and exert a massive impact on the select cities that host the Games. As Sochi prepares for 2014, they must also consider how they will market themselves (both as a city and as a host to the Games) to the rest of the world.
The Sochi 2014 website (Sochi2014.com) contains a chart specifically built to highlight the vision of the Games.
The chart has three main categories: "Innovative Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games," "Celebrating the Spirit of Russia" and "Delivering Sustainable, Postive Change, which Inspires the World." The chart contains several points that are especially relevant to the concept of marketing Sochi on a global basis, but it can be summarized with one main idea:
"Draw global attention to Sochi as an all-season resort and a premium location for both professional and amateur sports with superb service and a well-developed Infrastructure."
Pre-Olympic advertising is frequently achieved with the assistance of sponsorships and partnerships. The sponsors are divided into two main categories: national and worldwide. Each sponsor generally carries out a specific function (for example, Omega offers timing services and pieces) or holds a specific title amongst sponsors. Current sponsors of the 2014 Games are as follows:
National: Bosco, Aeroflot, Megafon, RZR (Russian Railways), Volkswagon, Sberbank, Rostelecom, Rosneft
Worldwide: Coca-Cola, Atos Origin, Dow, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung, Visa
Though worldwide advertising for the Games is still not prevalent, advertising for the games within Russia has already begun. While traveling in Russia, one will already notice advertising carrying the Olympic logo from Megafon, Sberbank, Bosco and Omega. Advertising aimed to the national audience promotes a unified Russia and support for the Games and the national team.
- One example of a company benefiting from the mutual relationship with the Olympic Games is Bosco Sports. By serving as the official apparel sponsor of the Russian Olympic Team, Bosco is already beginning to ramp up their advertising for the Olympic Games. In return for providing gear to the team, the store receives a bevy of advertising benefits as audiences see their logo and notice their apparel on famous athletes.
Of course, marketing the Games is not solely based on advertising. Branding and public relations also play a large role in developing a global audience for the Olympics. The branding for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics is based on the theme of "Gateway of the Future." It is used to promote the legacies that will come from the games and the growth and development as Sochi enters the global market. The Olympics will give Sochi the chance to show the world its deep-rooted history and culture. This will also help open the doors of opportunity to Sochi who will transform into a city that can support the 21st century with the digital generation. Sochi 2014 will guide the city onto the path to future but still have the values of the Russian culture from the past.
The brand was created by Interbrand and Expert Brand Council. They worked with athletes, experts in branding, marketing, the arts and Russian culture experts. They surveyed the people of Russia to gather information about the culture to get a genuine idea of what they value in this country to help them create this brand for the games.
The logo for the games was created with the digital age in mind. They encompass the official website for Winter Games in the logo by placing “sochi.ru” on top of the "2014." They also wanted display a mirror image look that represents the mountains and the sea in Sochi coming together and reflecting one another to create an image for the town. Having the URL incorporated in the logo will drive a lot of traffic to it because they are revolving the brand image of the games around the youth and the digital age they live in.
- Part of the discussion about Sochi and the Winter Games revolves around how the city is preparing to host such a digitally-based event. City officials addressed a question regarding how the city planned on enhancing its digital infrastructure to support the games in the video below.
The marketing of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics revolves around the concept of appealing to a crowd of youth. The mascots represent young and active individuals through animated animals. The mascots are The Polar Bear, The Hare, The Leopard, The Ray of Light, and The Snowflake. They were chosen by votes from the people of Russia through calls and text messages. The Polar Bear was raised by Artic Explorers who taught him how to ski, skate and to play curling. The Hare represents the fans because that is what she is herself; she cheers for her fellow mascot friends and has great love for all the sporting events. The Leopard is an experienced snowboarder and a local hero; he lives on the top of the mountain and always is keeping an eye out to help those who are in trouble. The Ray of Light and The Snowflake are from a faraway unknown planet.
Part of marketing Sochi will be figuring out how to draw citizens back after the Olympics are over. A large part of how this will be done focuses on the venues, which will serve as a means of hosting multiple events in the future. According to bbcnews.com, only 20 percent of Russia’s 11 million dollar Olympic bid will be spent on venues in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Sochi will spend the rest of the allotted bid on the infrastructure of the city in preparation for a large influx of visitors to the subtropical city. A total of 11 venues have been announced for the Games. Two locations have been formed for the venues and have been separated into Coastal and Mountain clusters.
- The clusters will be joined by multiple modes of transportation, a change for Sochi, which currently has only one main road in and out of the city. Among the modes of transportation will be a state-of-the-art railway constructed by national sponsor Russian Railways.
The coastal cluster will host hockey, curling, and speed skating events. The cluster will also hold the ice-skating palace, Olympic Stadium, and the track for Sochi’s Formula 1 project to be held annually in the city until 2020. Of the three Olympic Villages that will be provided for the Games, only one will be positioned in the coastal cluster. After the Games wrap-up, most of the venues will remain in
the city but be used for different functions. The smaller of the two hockey stadiums will become an exhibition center able to reach a capacity around 8,000. The large hockey center will be used for the local Russian hockey teams to practice, something new for the city. The curling venue will be removed from the cluster and be placed outside of the city approximately half a day travel away by train. All of the communications will remain in center and used for different operations within the city. The speed skating center will be replaced with a wooden floor for cycling teams and will host international competitions. Olympic Stadium will also remain in the cluster and will be used for the 2018 World Cup. The ice skating palace, which holds a capacity of 12,000, still has an undecided future. The palace will either be reconstructed in a different city or the machinery will be removed and the venue will become an exhibition center.
The mountain cluster will host the remaining two Olympic Villages and the remaining sporting events. The ski jump is the first venue that can be reached in this cluster followed closely by the press area leading to the rest of the venues. Spectators will be able to reach heights up to 1,200 meters to watch events and stay at the Grand Hotel Polyana. The Rosa Khuter Center, located at 600 meters, will host most of the mountain events such as snowboarding, the giant slalom, and downhill skiing. The bobsled venue can also be found near this center. The mountain cluster venues will all remain after the Games and be used for ski resorts and practice centers for local Russian winter sports teams. The ski centers will host training for different teams within all of Russia and may open up the centers for international teams to practice on the slopes.
According to Avtandil Tskhakaya, a 4th year economics and management student at Sochi State University For Tourism and Recreation, others will be encouraged to use the slopes after the conclusion of the Games.
“The main idea is to prepare sportsmen for climate changes,” said the student and member of the Winter Games volunteer program.
- These venues all hold the potential to attract more tourism to Sochi and allow Russia the opportunity to host international events in yeras to come. It is in this idea that the key to marketing Sochi globally lies. What is perhaps most important is not how the venues will be used during the Games, but how they will be able to be used afterwards. Sochi is already preparing itself, as it has plans to host multiple major sporting events in the upcoming years. Truly, the marketing of Sochi on a global scale is already beginning and the city is preparing to become a household name in the worlds of sports, resort life and entertainment in the future.