Team GB head of marketing: Storytelling sits at the heart of our strategy

Leah Davis: the head of marketing at Team GB
Leah Davis: the head of marketing at Team GB

There is an increasing interest in delivering content outside the direct live competition window, which is aiding our ambition to become an always-on sports brand.

The power of a story

Storytelling sits at the heart of our marketing strategy. We are a brand that galvanises a nation in support every two years, but our ongoing challenge is how to remain relevant in between the big competition moments.

Having a brand narrative and story to tell throughout the year ensures that we have an ongoing engaged audience.

The Team GB brand essence of "everyday people achieving extraordinary things" makes Team GB so relatable and admired. Our fans feel an affinity to our athletes and want to get to know them on a deeper level.

Our brand storytelling takes fans closer to the action, delivering into the heart of our brand essence. Never forget the importance of good old-fashioned brand positioning, know who you are and excel in your core brand offering. 

Believe in extraordinary

I’m privileged in that I get to work with Team GB athletes on a regular basis. Our athletes are the backbone of our brand and are the best ambassadors we could have. Great brands are built on great products and Team GB is no exception to that.

The ever-present dinner party question is, "What are the athletes really like." The honest answer is that they are genuinely lovely, normal people who achieve extraordinary feats. A ten-minute conversation with an Olympian makes you feel that you can conquer the world. Inspiration is contagious so, whatever your field of work, make sure that you surround yourself with inspiring people. 

Be where the fan is

The modern-day, 24/7 sports fan is increasingly looking for more tailored content, more often. We work closely with our partners to ensure that we are staying at the forefront of fan engagement trends. "Being where the fan is" is a good sense check for us to ensure that we are giving the fans what they want, where they want it and in the format they like.

There is an increasing interest in delivering content outside the direct live competition window, which is aiding our ambitions to become an always-on sports brand.

Our social media channels have revolutionised how we approach fan engagement. Profiling up-andcoming athletes or giving fans bite-sized chunks of sports content allows us to build a narrative before the Games even start, while also satisfying fans’ appetite or being armchair experts.

Knowledge is power in any industry, and the power of fans continues to grow.

Data, data, data

I can be a total numbers geek and love nothing more than a fresh deck of research results. Marketing changes, consumer behaviour changes, but building a brand proposition based on a good insight with creative delivery is timeless.

That said, there will be times when you need to take a leap of faith, even if you don’t have the data to back it up. The best marketers have conviction in their decisions and have the abilities to convince others to jump on board with them.

Let it go

In Disney’s now-infamous words, sometimes we need to "let it go" (a little!) and relinquish the reins to let a brand flourish.

During Rio 2016, we worked with a number of social media influencers who used their powerful voices to increase awareness of Team GB among non-sporting audiences. They did this by taking their fans closer to the action through Team GB experiences and events.

Most of this content sat outside of Team GB channels, which may raise a question of "why bother?", but this strategy recruited us an army of new and engaged fans.

Disruption in any industry will get you noticed – just make sure that you are being noticed for the right reasons. 

Unexpected learning

Some of the best thinking comes from unexpected places. Entertainment industry informing sports strategy around fan engagement; sports teams informing sales staff around how to work as a high-performing team; athletes informing city lawyers about focus and determination.

The lessons of sport and other industries are transferable. Successful marketers look beyond their field to discover new approaches, learn new insights and push the boundary within their own business.

Explore. Dream. Discover

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Thank you, Mark Twain. Wise words and something that I think marketers of today need to embrace.

Our industry is at an exciting time of evolution. The winners of tomorrow will be those who take brave strides based on strong data, good insights and a customer-centric strategy. 

Leah Davis is the head of marketing, Team GB, at the British Olympic Association. Davis has worked on
London 2012, Sochi 2014, Baku 2015 and, most recently, Rio 2016. She was previously an account director at Ogilvy & Mather.

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