Ticketing for the #London2012 Olympics came under fire this week after pictures of hundreds of #EmptySeats at multiple venues where athletes where competing appeared on broadcast coverageSports fans at the sites themselves also started to post images on Twitter, forcing LOCOG and the IOC to embark on a face-saving exercise which appeared to backfire after Lord Coe contradicted these images by claiming that venues were ‘stuffed to the gunnels.’

The crisis of course has started way before the opening ceremony when UK residents found it difficult to secure tickets for events, leaving many to question the ticketing process.

At a press conference LOCOG did their best to steer the public anger away from sponsors and towards the Olympic Family by stating that the empty seats were in areas reserved for accredited sporting officials, media and athletes.  That though didn’t satisfy the thousands of people that had no luck in the various pre-Olympic ticket ballots that took place.

The standard rebute from LOCOG didn’t do well with the public, who used the #EmptySeats Twitter hashtag to post pictures of half filled venues.  Even the IOC’s own Twitter account posted a picture showing a less that filled Table Tennis event.

Social-media has changed the game.  Crisis spread in real-time.  Twitter gathers people who empathise with the issue.  This forces organisations today to have to resolve issues quickly.  UK Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the seating fiasco while travelling to the Olympic Park on the Tube.

There is little room for spin in today’s connected world where the audience questions every defensive statement being issued.

Today, amongst PRs, there is a need of real-time forensic ability to analyse the audience and offer counsel.  Some might see this as pandering to the community..  It is nothing like that.  It is more a case of delivering the transparency that has been absent for so long.

The opening ceremony to the London 2012 Olympics is less than a week away.  The venues are ready and after months of rain the sun appears to have arrived in the capital for what is being described as the first true social summer games.

Yet in the past week, it’s been the social media guidelines and strict rules on what athletes and sports fans can post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other networks that has got social media influencers and the public talking.

The terms and conditions on London 2012’s own website also generated a lot of debate after it was noted that individuals could not link back to the site if the link portrays London 2012 ‘or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner.’  So there, you can talk badly if you so want about the games, but you cannot point people that visit your site to the corporate clean London 2012 site.  Interesting guidance that is an example of how to start an ‘online wildfire.’

USA Today reports that ‘In the four years since the Beijing Summer Games, Twitter has grown from 6 million users to more than 140 million. That’s 400 million tweets sent each day.’ Before adding that, there were more tweets about the Olympics on a single day last week than during the entire 2008 Games.’

Twitter has become the de-facto channel for real-time news for people.  It has become part of the glue that helps people share their thoughts and opinions.

In a PaidContent interview with Editor Robert Andrews on YouTube International Olympic Committee Head of Social Media Alex Huot tells why Restrictions on athletes’ and spectators’ stadium photo uploads are necessary.

The International Olympic Committee though has been working hard to aggregate all the social network feeds onto a user friendly platform to which users can subscribe to and will be subject to rules.  The IOC will be pushing content out on Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare and Google+.

As for the rules and regulations, especially those for athletes, well, they are based on common sense.  In my opinion they are needed.  Athletes are in London to compete and win.  Their use of social will also give insight into their lives during these Olympics.

There will be scandal, there will be a backlash and I am sure that there will be some guerrilla marketing campaign.  But so what, it is what will make these Olympics so much better.  Next week, it is time to #TakeTheStage and #MakeItCount.

Jack Wilshere | Nike #MakeItCount

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today banned in it’s current form Nike’s #MakeItCount social media campaign.  Launched in January 2012, the campaign used Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney to send a tweet namedropping the initiative to their respective followers over six months ago at the launch!

Since January, Nike has taken the social media campaign across marketing disciplines including advertising and have used it’s rosta of athletes to remind consumers of the brand.  It’s become a campaign that’s been truly integrated, reaching across marketing disciplines.

The decision by the ASA, which took 6 months to reach and was the result of a single complaint, highlights how the organisation has entrenched itself in it’s traditional standard.  While it reviews advertising campaigns, in it’s adjudication it has social guidelines for advertising through social networking channels that any communications channels should not just be aware of, but be versed in!

The ASA did say that an indication that it was an advert, such as by having an #ad in the tweet, might have clarified the purpose of the communication.  So there, after 6 months you now know.

See the ruling here.

Niklas Bendtner’s pants, worse than racist chanting!

European football governing body UEFA handed out today an €80,000 Euro fine to Croatia for racist chanting by it’s fans during the country’s game against Italy during #Euro2012The fine was €20,000 Euro less than that imposed the day before on Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner for, er, wearing underpants promoting Irish gambling company PaddyPower.

While it is obvious that UEFA do not care about their reputation or that of the game that they claim to represent, such a decision continues to leave a big question about their commitment towards ending racism within the game.

UEFA’s inability to understand the issue and unwillingness to tackle racism casts a cloud over the sponsors that are supporting this #Euro2012 football tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

If this impotent governing body is not willing to tackle racism, then surely what is left to do is to follow the money and challenge UEFA’s paymasters to exert their influence so that this scourge can be got rid off.

When a sponsors reputation is called into question you see a reaction that is quick and decisive.  In business, reputation matters.  Governing bodies, with their monopolistic thinking, meanwhile believe that they are immune to negative exposure.  I am sure that UEFA has cleaner ears for those with the money, than those with the ‘monkey chants.’

The BBC announced this week it’s plans for coverage of the London 2012 Olympics. Thanks to a dedicated Olympics Player, users will be able to access every single event online and by the press of a button.

Four years after the impressive Beijing Olympics the BBC has capitalised on the growth of technology and the rise in smartphone ownership to ensure that audiences never miss a moment.

Broadcasters have been living in fear of the fragmentation of the television market place, but because the BBC is tax-payer funded it has been able to take a leap and use technology that will put the audience truly in control.

For advertisers the segmentation of viewership has signalled confusion, forcing many to relearn how to reach and promote their brands to potential customers. Television, let’s not forget, is still the most dominant media when wanting to engage with an audience. But this is changing. Today, corralling people together is more difficult as more channels allows people to watch what they want to watch.

The BBC is using these Olympics to test out social features that will enable viewers to learn, comment and share about the event and athlete they watch.

By focusing on a platform agnostic belief, the BBC is putting the Olympics in the hands of the user, weather they are at home, work or travelling.

And if you are outside the UK overseas and want to see how it works then now is the time to get that VPN network up and running.

The Olympics, in your hand. Wherever you are.