Against all my own expectations, the Olympic Games have emerged like unexpected blossom on a tree that only flowers erratically. When was the last time GB could stand so proudly tall? I'm reminded of the post war years when the response to the end of WW2 was to implement the Beveridge Report and build the welfare state. Am I comparing a few sporting triumphs to the construction of, amongst other things, the National Health Service? No - that would be pure bathos. But I am comparing a display of national character, where the choices that were made in a moment of coming together, were open, inclusive and dynamically forward looking.
Just a few weeks ago, Britain was deep in the doldrums. A stagnant economy, morally and financially bankrupt banks, journalists and politicians and never-ending rain had over months and years slowly sapped the country of its spirit. Even the much-hyped Queen's Jubilee in June, with a somewhat flat river pageant and sometimes unremarkable concert, failed to lift the public mood.
Were there a medal table for making money at London 2012, there'd be few surprises at its summit. Just as China and the U.S. were a shoo-in for the top spots in the official standings, the International Olympic Committee's ascendancy would be assured alongside McDonald's and Coca-Cola in the commercial Games.
We are in the middle of a celebrity endorsement tsunami; never in the field of brand marketing has so much been endorsed to so many by so few. To walk London's streets right now is to be introduced to a bewildering array of sports and sports stars; Sunday magazines display their chiseled bodies and ghost-written autobiographies sit in their millions waiting to be shipped.
The Olympics have reminded us there is more to sport than just football. As a kid, I remember watching any sport that I could on TV largely due to the fact that there was no football on it. In those days a year's worth of televised live footy could be comfortably watched in a single afternoon. Today, men's football is ubiquitous, so it was ironic that our representatives in The-Only-Sport-That-Matters-TM bowed out quietly, with yet another bathetic penalties defeat in the Quarter-Final, on what was arguably the greatest night for British Sport since 1966. It would be great to think that the FA and the Premiership were capable of learning something from this.
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!