On The Line
Copy Writing for IMS 03-1992
Articles in the publication 'On The Line' were commissioned by IMS from Christopher Long in order to promote the company's speciality in negotiating and producing sponsored events.
By Christopher Long
When the new Olympic Museum in Lausanne was launched to the world its aim was quite simple. The gleaming white, four-story museum, overlooking Lake Geneva, was created to celebrate the spirit of Olympism; to pay homage to man's timeless quest for perfect physical and mental performance; and to inspire peace and understanding among all peoples.
Visitors today marvel at the banks of multiscreen cycloramas, high-tec interactive displays and state of the art video presentations of human endeavour over 3,000 years, but few will ever know just what a quest was involved for IMS in its creation.
EVIDENCE OF A TRADITION
"Not a lot of people had video cameras in 1896," says a rueful Martin Callanan, chief researcher at IMS, who spent many exhausting months tracking down the stills and moving images from times long past which offer such powerful evidence of the Olympic tradition.
"Finding the images, the records and the materials became a sort of marathon in itself. We found ourselves pursuing the most obscure leads to locate the one man in the world who still had a film record of the Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, or the small provincial museum with the one and only image of the swearing of the Olympic Oath."
All these items and images were required to create one of the largest number of multiscreen and interactive audio-visual displays ever mounted together in one place, covering both the ancient Greek games and the modern Olympics which were revived, in 1896, by Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
"It was a great challenge," says IMS managing director Keith Williams, who masterminded the making of the films and whose huge cycloramas for the Summer and Winter Games and the Olympic Flame dominate the main ground floor and first floor exhibition areas.
"In fact it was two great challenges. First, IMS is itself an international media sponsorship consultancy and here we were dealing with not only the single biggest media event in the world, but also the single largest sponsored event in the world too."
"We had reflect not only the athletics but how this vast movement works: the cooperation and goodwill involving millions of people around the world, the colossal efforts of the host cities, and how the hundreds of millions of dollars of sponsorship has to be raised every four years to make it possible."
"Then there are the effects on the host cities. Whole economies can made or broken by staging the event and massive urban improvements and added facilities, such as those in Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona, are the legacies which can result from hosting the event. Finally there's the fact that the Olympics touch the hearts and minds of billions of people around the world through TV and the media - the biggest media event in the world.
"Finally there's the fact that the Olympics touch the hearts and minds of billions of people around the world through TV and the media the biggest media event in the world."
"We had to distil all this and the spirit of the Olympic movement into a sort of showcase. And even the showcase, the museum in Lausanne, has been sponsored by just about every world class corporation you can think of. So, we were in a very powerful spotlight and we knew we had to get it right."
"The second challenge was more practical. Where would we find the images that would reflect the scale and significance of the Olympic movement ?"
"The period 1896 to 1936 was the most difficult, but that was just one eight-panel section. Then we had 1948-68, 1972-84 and 1988-92. Following that we moved on to an equally massive display on the opposite side of the museum, covering the Winter Olympics from 1924 to 1992. Other displays were the history of the ancient Greek Olympics, the story of the Olympic Flame, major events of the 20th Century, and a homage to Pierre de Coubertin himself. "
FEELING THE BURN
At the centre of the exhibition area are nine interactive display modules (created on video by IMS in collaboration with IBM) which also attract enormous interest. The computer-based displays allow visitors to 'choose' for themselves which Olympic stars they want to meet, 'feel' what the athletes experience, 'discover' the skills and techniques they use, and 'share' the pain and rigour of athletic training.
THE TINGLE FACTOR
"The biggest concern was that the whole experience the colour, the specially composed music and the images themselves must create that 'tingle factor' which overwhelms athletes and spectators at Olympic events. After all, we're dealing with the very extremes of human experience."
"What does it feel like to know that you, and you alone in all the world, are the fastest, the strongest, the most skilful the best in the world ? What does it feel like to train for years for that one brief chance which might last just a matter of seconds. And then there's only the triumph, the pain, the ecstasy of winning and the despair of failure."
"For the athletes we had to convey the joy of having been there and having done it of doing what you do best alongside the best in the world and with the whole world watching you do it."
Which was a little bit how Keith Williams felt when he first switched on the displays in front of the International Olympic Committee and its President Juan Antonio Samaranch. He felt, he says, as nervous as any 100 metre sprint finalist. Would the committee and the large group of international journalists feel the 'tingle' factor?
They did. And there will be a commemorative plaque dedicated to IMS in the main exhibition area to prove it.
"But it was only when I felt the shivers down my own spine that I knew we'd succeeded," he says.
Visitors to Moscow often say they find themselves in a Sixties and Seventies time-warp. Down from the windows of high-rise apartments and up from the sub-culture of crowded subways, the raw, vibrant beat of rock protest fills the air. And not only in Moscow. In emerging markets, in emerging democracies, throughout Eastern Europe and beyond, an emerging counter-culture of youth craves a vocabulary to express its individualism, its protest, its rage and its urge for change. And that vocabulary is Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Guns & Roses...
The demand for Hard Rock is boundless and now being satisfied thanks to an I.M.S. sponsorship arrangement with Philip Morris, the makers of Marlboro cigarettes and radio stations across a 6,000 mile swathe across Central Europe from the eastern sea-board of the former Soviet Union to Morocco.
The vehicle is Legends of Rock, a one-hour weekly radio programme developed and produced by I.M.S. in London and providing a steady diet of classic heavy rock, broadcast weekly from local radio stations in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Morocco and across the capitals of the C.I.S. And thanks to satellite, Legends of Rock is rapidly reaching still larger areas of three continents.
"It didn't require a genius to spot the demand and the opportunity," says Keith Williams of I.M.S. who spent much time visiting and exploring the market needs and opportunities in Eastern Europe. "Where we had an edge was that we had already developed expertise in sponsored radio productions in the UK with a series of I.M.S./Golden Wonder Legends of Rock on Capital Radio.
(Continental Research, the independent research company who evaluated this sponsorship on behalf of Golden Wonder, confirmed it to be one of the most successful ever monitored in the UK).
"The important factor was finding precisely the right international client to sponsor, or 'enable', the project. Radio stations such as Europa Plus in Moscow needed no convincing. They knew what their audiences wanted. Marlboro's involvement was really just a marriage made in heaven. It's no good saying 'as American as apple pie' in Sofia or St Petersburg. What you can say is 'as American as Marlboro' or 'as American as Hendrix'. What we've got, if you like, is the core of America talking to the heart of youth across three continents in the universal vocabulary of Hard Rock."
What does Marlboro get out of it? They've linked themselves to a high quality IMS radio production which will satisfy the aspirations of tens of millions over the coming years... giving a voice to a generation, I suppose."
The audience for the IMS weekly video review programme has continued to grow. So much so, that since its first broadcast in 1989, the regular weekly audience has grown to nearly 14 million listeners on Independent Local Radio in the UK. (That's almost 3 times as much as the country's top ranking TV review programme).
Panasonic Video Products as the No. 1 company in the market is the perfect Sponsor for such a programme, featuring as it does the very latest Video film releases for Rental and Sell Through a market for Video software totalling almost $1.6 Billions annually.
Panasonic is now in its second year of its sponsorship of the Video Review and is consolidating its position as the United Kingdom's leading producer of Video products.
Independent radio recorded its highest ever audience share at 36.4 per cent in this year's universal Wave II Joint Industry Committee for Radio Audience Research.
All radio listening fell three per cent and total IR listening fell one per cent year on year. Total BBC share fell to 58.2 per cent - only the second time it has fallen.
© (1991/1992) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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