London 2012 is in full swing and the world's eyes are all on England's capital, with Brand London's reputation on the line. Last year I put together some thoughts on potential factors that could affect London's brand during the Games. I thought it'd be interesting to see how these predictions fared!
1. We have a generally cynical media - they have a propensity to take a 'glass half empty' view. The media will be poised to amplify any shortcomings in the Games, shaping the way in which brand London is viewed by others.
In the run up to the Games, it seemed that this would be the case. The media seemed to enjoy discussing the problems with the special Games lanes and the G4S saga. Other teething problems didn't help, with coaches getting lost and the likes of US athlete Kerron Clement tweeting "Um, so we've been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London."
But then something changed and an air of pride took over. I sense the media has realised the prevailing and overwhelmingly positive mood of the people and wisely opted not to contradict it. All media eyes are now focussed on spurring on our athletes and the excitement about having the Olympics in our own back yard for the first time since 1948 seems to have sunk in. It remains to be seen which route the media will take once the Games are over and the city isn't under global scrutiny - many think it will revert back to its cynical ways.
CNN Go sums it up by saying: "Most Londoners view the Games in the same way they did World War II: they didn't ask for it and it'll make their lives hell for a while, but they'll be excited when their side wins anything."
The social revolution
2. With ongoing advances in the connectivity and smart phones enabling news to reach people in an instant, the performance of London 2012 will be tracked every second of the way. London must not underestimate the power of social media to influence opinion. One area to watch in particular will be the mobile phone infrastructure. If spectators are unable to find a phone signal it leaves them with a lackluster view of the event and reflects badly on a city's infrastructure; hopefully this won't be the case in Stratford.
With more tweets being sent during the 2012 opening ceremony than during the whole of the Beijing Olympics, this really is the year of the socially connected Games. We've seen tweets galore from people watching at the venues, at home or in the office and from the athletes themselves. Hats off to the organisers and participants in all the opening ceremony rehearsals - with so many people involved it's incredible that there were no leaks on YouTube. With over 8 million people having downloaded the official LOCOG app to keep up to date with Olympics news, London is faring pretty well when it comes to the digital Olympics.
3. No doubt, the much loved British pastime of queuing will be a media favourite. Any event with huge attendance figures expects a degree of queuing. Whilst the average entry and exit time of around 1.5 hours at the Toronto Winter Games in 2010 was considered normal, the British media will no doubt highlight long queues if they occur.
Although there have been reports of queues at the Park, mainly at busy food stands, the general consensus is that the Olympic Park has been an impressive and very well run operation. The army of enthusiastic volunteers (and even members of the British Army!) have ensured that brand London and brand Britain is a force to be reckoned with.
Rain and trains
4. London is world-renowned for its unpredictable weather. Rain will be less of a problem to Brits at least, in contrast to blazing hot sunshine. Whilst spectators will welcome the sunshine at the stadiums, travelling during a London heatwave could take the shine off the event for many. London's transport network will be put under intense pressure during the Games and hot weather would not only bring the possibility of delays, but also exacerbate the problems of overcrowding and a distinct lack of air conditioning on the trains.
After what felt like weeks of rain, the sun finally came out in time for the opening ceremony and the weather has, for the most part, been fine. And even though we've had some rain, this hasn't seemed to dampen anyone's spirits. Despite problems on the tube having caused delays, the transport network seems to be coping relatively well with the extra passengers. Transport for London's 'Get Ahead of the Games' campaign is perhaps partly to thank for preparing us for the worst. However it's also partly to blame for scare-mongering many people to avoid the capital altogether - something that many of the city's retailers aren't thanking them for.
Result for Brand London
London may have got off to a rocky start, and with wobbles like the empty seat fiasco it hasn't all been plain sailing (no pun intended). However it genuinely does feel like brand London has triumphed from the Olympic Games, with the city and the nation's great talents working together to ensure it's an event to be reckoned with. The positive mood also seems to be being felt by all of Team GB and translating into great success. It remains to be seen what legacy the Games will leave behind for brand London, but at the moment it seems that we're winning gold in more ways than one.
Follow Crispin Reed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/crispinreed