The English Commonwealth Games athletics team is about to get a marketing makeover, thanks to Duncan Lewis, appointed to the new post of marketing director by Sport England last month.
In the past, Team England has been able to depend on the seemingly inexhaustible largesse of the National Lottery and Exchequer. No longer. The department of culture, media and sport (DCMS) – to whom Lewis is ultimately responsible – has decreed that it must now begin to stand on its own two feet. Which means that Lewis is embarking on a drive to find sponsors and other commercial partners.
The Commonwealth Games have considerable assets as a brand. They are genuinely multinational, diverse in the sports on offer and well-liked by many of our elite athletes, like Dame Kelly Holmes – who was appointed president of the Games earlier this year. But the Games are a Cinderella compared with the Olympics. Lewis must grapple with this perceived inferiority, and also the conundrum of what Team England really stands for. To help him out, he has appointed identity specialists Corporate Edge, which has gained considerable “nation” building experience after working for our premier tourist quango, VisitBritain.
There’s more on how Lewis plans to tackle the identity issue and attract sponsors in my column this week.