When Life Gives You Lemons: Branding without Olympics

Last Saturday, IOC announced that Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics. There were two more candidate cities: Madrid and Istanbul. None of the candidate cities got the majority of the votes in the first round. The second round of voting was between Istanbul and Tokyo, after Madrid was eliminated from the race following a run-off vote against Istanbul.  2020 was Istanbul’s fifth bid to host the Olympics. Being a runner-up candidate is thus far the best result Turkey got.

Now, we all know the famous saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. But there is no saying about how to brand your place when IOC doesn’t give you the Olympics. It is true that hosting mega events can be seen as important “place branding” moments, yet one should not forget that there are various studies (such as this one) showing that such events are not necessarily useful to improve a nation’s/country’s reputation.

So, When IOC doesn’t give you the Olympics


IMHO, Japan should pay Spain to organize the games in Tokyo. The savings are incredible.

IMHO, Japan should pay Spain to organize the games in Tokyo. The savings are incredible.


When IOC doesn’t give you Olympics

– Get ready for #Istanbul2024. Prepare a stronger case than “Give us the Olympics, we are a bridge”.  It is like asking for a branding job because you are a branding professional. Look at the past games, look at the Olympics’ logo – it is all about being a bridge. Each and every host city is a bridge (just as any other person applying for that job is a branding professional).

– Invest the proposed spending on new sports infrastructure, education, and training. Despite what this “objective” infographic argues, Turks do not regularly do sports. (Seriously, 56% of Turks play tennis? Really?)

– Host another mega-event. Who knows, maybe Euro 2020 Finals?

– Understand why IOC chose another city. And no, the answer is not the interest rate lobby or telekinesis

– Get a record number of gold medals in the Olympics. If media attention is what you seek, winning at sports is at least as good as hosting.

– (And as I have been trying to constantly argue in my last couple of posts) Use this as an opportunity to start talking to your constituents about why some people did not want to host the games from the beginning.


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