Why we should make it impossible not to love London 2012

Does anybody remember Question Time in the run-up to the London mayoral elections with Boris and Ken live on BBC prime-time TV?

Tim Bleakley, UK managing director, sales and marketing, CBS Outdoor
Tim Bleakley, UK managing director, sales and marketing, CBS Outdoor

Well, I do. I remember the moment Ken Livingstone described to viewers how he didn't care a jot about sport and that his support for London 2012 was an elaborate political con to get much-needed funding into East London.

This was an opportunity to stand up and make one of the great speeches of all time. To talk about the greatest show on earth coming to London, and the billions of private and public investment that will flow into the UK and see London emerge swiftly from any downturn, as people gear up for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this country.

This was his legacy. Alas, he is now looking for a sponsor for his phone-in show on LBC.

On 24 August, London becomes the Olympic city as Boris Johnson accepts the Olympic flame in Beijing.

But is the media industry up for the greatest show on earth? Or are we going to join in with the general negativity that pervades any potential success story for the UK?

Media is good at numbers, so here are a few 2012 stats to whet your appetite: 30 Olympic sports in 31 venues, 205 countries represented, 14,250 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, £9.2m-worth of tickets for sale and £10bn of public and private sector investment.

So, managing directors and chief executives, call an all-company meeting and rabble-rouse, inspire, persuade, cajole. Do whatever you have to do to make it impossible not to love London 2012.

The out-of-home medium is well up for the greatest show on earth, and there will be no negative comment from our sector. The medium is the message and we will be a force for good.

We are investing in product, research, insight, and the level of engagement we have with our growing audience.

From an advertising perspective, the greatest show on earth will be an out-of-home, on-the-move experience.

The BBC has the TV rights, and for the Olympic partners (they are not sponsors), no advertising exposure is allowed at any Olympic venue.

London 2012's transport strategy is to host the first "public transport" Games. The aim is for 100% of ticketed spectators to travel to the Games by public transport.

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose signed off his Radio 4 and BBC News at Ten bulletins with this: "China will not change the Olympic spirit, but the Olympic spirit may change China."

So, do you think it can change UK plc and the media industry for the greater good?

Get up for it.

- Tim Bleakley is UK managing director, sales and marketing, CBS Outdoor.

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