Jen Golden

Recent Posts

Branding a Country on the Olympic Stage

Posted by Jen Golden

Fri, Mar 07, 2014

CMB Sochi Olympics 2014I recently traveled to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics (check this off the bucket list!) and after all the media attention focused on Sochi leading up to the games, I was interested to see firsthand if the games were going to be considered a success for Russia or not.Russia went into their Olympic bid with the mindset that they would be showcasing, and essentially re-branding, their image to the world (and turning Sochi into a top tourist destination in the process). Re-branding an entire country is no small feat (and in the west many would argue that Russia faces a particularly difficult battle) and the Olympic stage is indisputably the easiest way to gain national exposure and leverage a positive image.

  • Pre-Olympics: Sochi got off to a bit of a rocky branding start in the media (with security and hotel/lodging concerns taking the spotlight away from the positive aspects of the games) and #SochiFail being the most prominent twitter tag in the weeks leading up to the event. Strolling through the Olympic Park a day before the Opening Ceremonies, many aspects were not yet set-up and ready to go (e.g., the souvenir store, sponsor houses, food stands). Nothing like last minute!

  • Olympic Moment: After the Olympic Ring debacle during the opening ceremonies, Sochi brought its A game. The international media had little to complain about (besides the sunny weather!), as events went off without a hitch and portrayed Russia in a positive light.

  • Post-Olympics: From purely a spectator’s point of view, the games for Russia were a success. The venues were state-of-the-art, Sochi provided wonderful scenery, volunteers were friendly and focus was centered on what mattered: the athletes and bringing the world together for these two weeks. Russia also achieved their ultimate branding goal as a nation: coming out on top of the medal count. But in an illustration of the limits of Olympic spirit, Russia’s current political actions may taint any positive goodwill they gained from Sochi.  

In the wake of the Games, will Sochi become the ultimate tourist destination that Russia hoped for, or will it suffer like other Olympic cities have in the past? Speaking to other spectators who had been to multiple Olympics, many expressed these were the best Olympic Games yet…but only time will tell if that positive experience was felt throughout the world (or if it never made it outside the ring of fans and athletes in Sochi). 

Jen is a Project Manager at CMB. She’ll never forget her Olympic experience and is now preparing herself for PyeongChang 2018.

Topics: Travel & Hospitality Research, Brand Health & Positioning

The 2013 Boston Red Sox: Building Brand Loyalty off the Field

Posted by Jen Golden

Tue, May 07, 2013

Fenway ParkWhen the 820 consecutive home game sell-out streak ended on April 10th at Fenway Park (just two games into the 2013 season), the Boston Red Sox found themselves in a unique situation…Red Sox brand loyalty was no longer just a guaranteed thing.Since the Red Sox won the World Series in ’04 and again in ‘07, brand loyalty has come easy to the team – the fans were just there, happy to support their world champions.  But after a rocky end to the 2011 season and a weak 2012, loyalty has waned and the organization actually needs to re-build that loyalty again.

So where do they start?  Obviously on the field actions play tremendously into brand loyalty of any professional sports team. If the team is winning, fans will come to cheer them on and if the Red Sox continue their already hot start to the 2013 season that may help to re-build the loyalty all in itself.  But besides just winning games and acquiring new and exciting players to drive fans into the ballpark - what have the Sox done to keep Red Sox Nation committed and coming back to the brand?

  • Commitment to the brand’s heaviest users:  A new loyalty program has been put in place for the brand’s repeat purchasers (i.e., the devoted season ticket holders who come to game after game). Enrolled into a tiered loyalty program, they can earn points towards rewards (such as throwing out the first pitch at a game) every time they scan their loyalty card at the ball park or make a purchase at a concession stand. By committing to their heaviest users and brand advocates, the Red Sox are aiming to keep their best customers happy. 

  • In-Game Promotions:  To show fans they are valued and appreciated, the Red Sox put promotions in place at food stands around the ballpark for the start of the season, including Kids Eat Free and $5 Beers. Even with high ticket prices, these promotions might drive both new and old fans into the ballpark and provide them with a great customer experience once they are in the door of friendly Fenway Park.

  • Rebuilding brand trust:  Maybe most importantly, the red sox faithRed Sox have campaigned to bring trust back to its fans. The Red Sox have always had brand loyalty— even in the 86 year stretch without a World Series win – but trust kept those fans believing that soon their suffering would be over. After the 2012 season, many fans were left feeling that the team had quit on them and weren’t committed to winning.  To combat this mentality in 2013, commercial, print advertisements and billboards showcase players with the message that “What’s Broken Can Be Fixed” and “162 Ways to Restore the Faith.” New manager John Farrell has also promised to do everything he can to help the team win.  However, while this assurance and transparency with the fans is reassuring off the field, the team now must follow through with this commitment on the field to truly gain back the trust.  

Professional sport teams are a unique brand; sometimes no matter how much loyalty the Red Sox organization might try to create – advertising, loyalty programs, promotions, none of it will matter without a competitive team on the field.  However, it’s times like this when the Red Sox can show their dedicated fans they really are valued. They must maintain their brand advocates and deliver on their promise of a committed ball club in order to keep Red Sox Nation faithful even when the League Standings on the Green Monster might show the Red Sox slipping a few games behind the dreaded Yankees. 

Jen Golden is a Senior Associate Researcher at CMB. She’ll never forget the first time her Dad took her to her first Sox game and she saw the Green Monster for the first time – her brand loyalty for the team has never wavered since.

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Topics: Brand Health & Positioning, Customer Experience & Loyalty, Media & Entertainment Research