* Keywords: Sports Sponsorship, Ambush Marketing, Internet
Timo Lumme is an experienced player in the world of Sport Marketing and Management. In 1988, he joined International Management Group (IMG) as Associate Counsel for IMG's sports clients, moving to France in 1989 to head up IMG's team within COJO (Comite d' Organisation des Jeux Olympiques) with responsibility for the international marketing of the 1992 Albertville Games. Lumme also managed the group's commercial consultancy relationship with the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games.
In 1992, he was promoted to Managing Director for IMG Italy with responsibility for all client, event and television activities. In 1994, Lumme returned to the UK as Vice President of Business Development, jointly spearheading IMG's entry into the football business. In 1996, he joined Nike as European Sports Marketing Director, responsible for Nike's Sports marketing strategy, management and execution in Europe. He joined Quokka Sports Ltd in 1999 as Managing Director, Europe.
Lumme is a qualified solicitor and is fluent in five languages. Here he talks to Adrian Hitchen, Executive Director of SRi.
AH: I thought we could perhaps begin, Timo, with some background to your entry into the field of sports marketing. Could you tell us what first attracted you to sports marketing and specifically to IMG?
TL: Sure. I actually started off life as a lawyer and, in fact, I qualified and practised as a financial lawyer in the city of London for a firm called Slaughter & May. What first attracted me, apart from my love of sport, was the fact that I was actually doing National Service in Finland in the snow, and I read Mark McCormack's book "What they didn't teach you at Harvard Business School". I began to realise there was an industry called sports marketing, and quickly found out about it and sought out an opportunity in the firm that I finally joined, and that was IMG.
AH: So did you join IMG as a lawyer?
TL: I went in as a lawyer initially, yes. I was what they call an associate counsel, basically an in-house lawyer, and I was there for 11 months before I was then posted off to work on the Albertville Olympics.
AH: A fact which leads into my next question. We first met, I think, when you were at IMG, at one of those early Olympic workshops. Staying with history for a moment, how did you see Olympic marketing evolve over that period, and how would you contrast that era with the situation today?
TL: I think they were fairly interesting times, on a couple of fronts. Olympic marketing, as you know better than me really, probably kicked into gear in 1984, but it wasn't until 1988 that the international programme, the "TOP" programme, kicked off for the first time. When I came into the picture, in 1989, it was the beginning of the second round of sponsorships ("TOP 2") which covered Albertville and Barcelona.
What was particularly interesting was that the programme was having to fit into the construct which now included a slightly more developed domestic programme which, of course, was what IMG had been brought in to work on. IMG acted for the Organising Committee and, as such, had a direct mandate to develop the local programme. In those days one of the major issues, certainly at the beginning, was how the international programme would sit with the domestic programme. Clearly, you could not have Coca-Cola as an official sponsor world-wide, including the Games in Albertville, for the Organising Committee then to go and sell that same category, granting "exclusive" rights, and so that was an interesting time!
It was particularly interesting in the area of technology. I think one of the things that has changed is the companies themselves, like the technology companies which have tended to converge more and more. Whilst we may have been able to do deals with, say, a Panasonic, a Philips, and a third company in those days, generally the technology companies are now providing services which have "converged" so it is much more difficult to distinguish between them.
AH: Do you think that, in view of the Olympic difficulties which we all read about last year, Olympic sponsorship is a different proposition today from the "high-end" image association that existed ten or 15 years ago?
TL: I think there may be a perception of that, but I think that is wrong. I actually think that the Olympics generally have done a pretty good job in perfecting or maturing the overall proposal to sponsors. I am told, in fact, that there is actually a waiting list for potential entrants to Olympic sponsorship. I think perhaps where the issues are more keenly felt is with the Organising Committees which, of course, are effectively Fortune 500 companies which have to start from scratch to build themselves up in a period of six to 12 months and so perhaps don't have the requisite experience that the Olympic Movement as a whole has in managing those types of issues.
AH: Moving on, you then joined Nike, I believe at about the same time that Ian Todd made a similar move.
TL: What happened was that I left IMG to go and work as European Sports Marketing Director of Nike Europe, based in Holland, in November 1996. Ian Todd left (IMG) to join Nike in June 1998, so there was a bit of a gap.
AH: My understanding is that Ian was recruited to help establish the Nike Sports Entertainment Division, and then you joined him working on that side?
TL: I think that is the perception, but the reality is exactly the opposite. Nike Sports Entertainment did already have a life within Nike: I think it actually had achieved some of its objectives, but I think the reality was that Ian convinced Phil Knight that Nike should really concentrate on its core business -- the marketing and distribution of sports equipment, specifically shoes, sports apparel and equipment -- and that the key challenge was how to acquire the best sports stars and sports teams of the future and how to leverage those for the brand. I think that was the platform that he went in on, and he felt that Nike Sports Entertainment was actually a burden to them and took Nike's focus off what they should be doing.
AH: History has suggested that maybe the (NSE) concept wasn't necessarily as sound as the initial thinking -- at least that is my take, but do you agree?
TL: I think you have to look at Nike Sports Entertainment on two levels. On the one level, Nike had a mission to enter a couple of sports, and specifically football (soccer), which it had really ignored for a long time because it had been very centred and focused on its US business. After the '94 World Cup, it became obvious to Nike that the way to become a truly international, global brand was …