Q&A with Nick Evans - Commonwealth Games England

1. Tell us about how things have changed for the Commonwealth Games post-Olympics; has interest reasons/are the Commonwealth Games stronger post-London 2012?

Great question.There’s two answers really. Firstly in terms of the actual Commonwealth Games Movement and secondly in terms of Commonwealth Games England. Let’s deal with the Games first. There is no doubt that London 2012 raised the bar in terms of interest in multi-sport games, participation, commercial activation and of course public interest. It was in many ways a game changer. In addition the experience and preparation of the athletes was vastly improved and professionalised, so it raised the bar across many levels. This was both positive and presents its own challenges. A Home games is an incredible opportunity to capture the public’s imagination, provide iconic moments and heroic athletes. The level of interest and commercial activation is elevated. This means more commercial income, providing the team and the athletes with more support and facilities. This was the case at both London 2012 and Glasgow 2014. It really was an excellent opportunity to build the brand, increase digital reach and of course develop assets that future sponsors want to work with and be part of.

Glasgow really transformed the Commonwealth Games movement after a tough few years. It was relevant, bright and innovative and full of the heroes and iconic moments that we remember from 2012. But the spirit and inclusivity made it even more engaging. The ticket sales and TV audience meant that it became the 5th largest global sporting tournament, so it is a serious player. The whole experience and occasion really put the games back on the map. The athletes loved it and we at Team England really used the ‘Home Games’ popularity to build a solid commercial partner programme and really invest in the athletes and team. The results spoke for themselves as we topped the medal table for the first time in nearly 30 years and got some incredible media exposure. Our athletes really captured the imagination and so many ‘new stars were born’, one of our core values as an organisation and brand.

But with that comes pressure for the next games. We will not enjoy the benefits a quasi ‘Home Games’ brings. The level investment required in order to provide the athletes and team with all the facilities and support and preparation since 2012 is demanding. From kit, travel, performance centre, clubhouse, England House, training camps, full medical and technical support. In order to compete at elite level and give the opportunity for high performance requires a level of investment far beyond our last Games overseas in Delhi 2010. We want to continue the momentum, we want to build a winning England movement. We want to champion English sport and the finest athletes and we want to win as many medals as possible and help nurture new talent. That’s why we are trying to harness all that was good about Glasgow and build a commercial family that will be crucial to the long term success of Team England. Both for Gold Coast 2018 and the next Games in 2022. It must be long term sustainable but I think the CGF showed an innovative approach in using the opening ceremony as a way to raise funds for Unicef as providing an alternative to the Olympics but still retaining the elite sporting offering that makes so many people enjoy a multi-sport games. It is unique and like nothing else. Our challenge is using all of those benefits for our prospective partners.

2. How will you drive interest in the UK given the games are in the Gold Coast?

It will be challenging. We have to be realistic but also creative. We intend to work in partnership with the OC, Home Nations and all our commercial partners to create as much interest as possible and promote the team and the games. Taking on Australia (and other nations of course) on their own backyard is always one of the toughest challenges any English sporting team faces. But it is such a great opportunity. There are a number of activations we can do, from digital engagement with the athletes, commercial partners promoting it in their retail units and digitally, all the way to Fan parks or sporting centres. The QBR will be a great activation piece pre games to visit English cities as before and engage the public, but these is no doubt it will impact the TV audience and media coverage due to the time zones. But the BBC will hopefully provide their full coverage, highlights shows and support it.

I think you’ll see a lot more digital activation, for instance when you add up all our 17 sports and 400 athletes social media reach, along with ours  it comes to over 10 million + , so clearly we will be working hard to provide exciting content and engage the public and sports fans. We will have to work doubly hard in order to capture the public’s imagination/interest. The Australia v England and as they are billing it ‘the revenge games’ is always an interesting narrative and undoubtedly stir the public’s interest. We can’t wait to work with our partners to get the English public as one Team England.

What does Commonwealth Games England have to offer to potential partners?

A Multi-diverse  England international sporting property that guarantees success. There are so many areas for partners to use for their programmes. Aligning with success. Using the athletes incredible focus and drive for their business goals. Staff activation programmes, client entertaining, or CSR by supporting regional, young or para athletes. We are all about Elite performance, so partners can align with this for their products/services by using athletes, coaches, support programmes or our team behind the team for their own business goals but we also support inclusivity, diversity, regional and community involvement. We represent 17 sports and over 400 athletes across, gender, physical ability, region, community and sport. We have something for everyone, plus of course we are an international sports team and great for companies to get behind the team, the country and the athletes. it is very inclusive. We offer access to many sports, athletes, stars of the future, leadership coaches, business networks and money cant buy experiences.

How are you currently working with partners? 

Well we are obviously building up towards the youth games and also the journey to 2018. Between the games differs very much from Games time. With partners where we will be using their services or goods it is slightly different to partners who are aligning with the journey. So with STA who we have recently signed as travel partner, we have been working with them to organise the travel for our 100 strong youth team to Samoa, and looking at ways we can add value and engage the partner into the games process. For National Express, who have renewed their support, they are looking into to adding support and value to the youth team's experience. Perhaps free travel for gold medallist, but these are concepts at the moment, but very much trying to integrate partners into the whole team and experience.

With the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa fast approaching, what sponsorship packages are available to current or new partners? - One of our main USP's as an organisation is supporting young talent. At Glasgow you saw some stars of tomorrow born (Cluadia, Adam Gemmilietc) Previous youth games alumni have been Jess Ennis, Danny Care etc. So we see the youth games as a hugely important part of creating the stars of the future and supporting the finest young athletes in this country. We are looking for partners to engage with the team and the ethos, we have 65 finest young athletes representing their country so we will be seeking partners to engage digitally, be part of the team, create regional heroic stories and be part of the whole experience.

For CGI, it's more about supporting athletes for the 4 year journey and using our coaches, nutritionists, athletes for their staff wellness programme. Also they have implemented an internal leadership and success programme to run for the 4 years to 2018 parallel to the sponsorship, using tickets for reward and our team behind the team for motivation, goal setting and improved performance. S it is very much echoing sport crossing over into business. It is really exciting and innovative and highlights how many different areas there are to Team England.

We create bespoke packages with each partner depending on what they want. Digital, athletes, CSR community based or add to the experience with products. We will be aiming to utilise our multi sport reach and considerable digital reach to all English sports fans and clearly we'd love partners to be part of that. As I said we are Team England and that includes commercial partners as much as any other.

Additional information