The 2014 Winter Olympics have come and gone and with them no shortage of compelling stories, entertainment, and feats of athleticism. Much was made of the Russians as hosts of the Games from being the most expensive Olympic Games to date, to the political juxtapositions that are part of everyday life in Russia, to their apparent propensity to do just about everything at the very last minute; from constructing the venues and hotels, to showing up to attend the events themselves. My wife was surprised to find out that apparently I’m not the only one who goes through life this way.
One story that developed was about the snafu in the opening ceremony when only four of the five Olympic rings displayed as intended. When you have the whole world participating in and witnessing an event of this magnitude, “technicalities” are MAGNIFIED!
Now I’m by no means an authority on Russia and its ways, but it didn’t take long before the political inferences and jokes surfaced suggesting this to be a major embarrassment for the host country/homeland; and that the proverbial “someone’s going to Siberia for this” made its way into the Olympic commentary airwaves.
The Games continued on as hoped for with nightly coverage of what appeared to be the generally familiar, safe, friendly, conciliatory, and competitive gamesmanship the Olympics are intended to be. In spite of all the security and terrorism media hype, superb athletes and people competed in honest-to-goodness games.
A surprising and subtle twist occurred as the Games ended during the closing ceremonies. The stereotypical Russian seriousness and zero-tolerance approach to their brand chose the fork in the road less traveled and made fun of their embarrassment of the opening ceremony by mocking themselves with a repeat of the fifth ring snafu. Who knew the Russian authorities could evoke a sense of humor! But they did… for the rest of the world to witness. Nice comeback comrades… these were, after all, the Olympics; the event celebrating our world community.
The time-tested benefits of making mistakes, learning from them, and ending up with a better product in the end was proven once again. Our brands depend on extending ourselves as leaders and marketers and sometimes this means taking chances. Sometimes they work as planned and sometimes they don’t; but when the intended outcome is to do good, feel light, and share some love… the risks are minimal and the gains large.