Sport with spin
Todd Sampson. Picture: Nick Wilson

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you're bound to have noticed the onslaught of TV and print ads doing the rounds that are cashing in on the Olympics and the athletes involved.

It's no secret the London 2012 Olympics will be one of the biggest sporting events the world has ever seen.

But what the average Joe Blow may not realise is that it is as much a gargantuan global marketing campaign as a sporting event.

From tomorrow, the Gruen team will reform to present the four-part Olympic special Gruen Sweat, focusing on the "brandathlon" that is London 2012.

Host Wil Anderson, panel regulars Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft, and expert guest panellists will expose the marketing machine surrounding the Olympics.

"We rarely stop to think about the engine behind the Olympics," Sampson says over the phone from his desk at the Sydney branch of top creative agency Leo Burnett.

"It's just an advertising vehicle, wrapped up in a global sporting event. Most people find that concept a little strange."

Ahead of the opening ceremony - which takes place on Saturday morning Perth time - and over the course of the games, Gruen Sweat will shed light on what drives the money- making machine which is set to rake in millions of dollars for sponsors and advertisers.

"What we will see is a look underneath the curtain of the Olympics," Sampson says.

"How much are the athletes getting paid? What value do they add back to businesses when they're in a sponsorship kind of role? What do brands gain from it?"

Following the Olympics, the second season of Gruen Planet will commence.

Like last year, the show will focus on the biggest news stories of the week, at home and abroad, examining advertising and PR and critiquing the world of spin.

Gruen Planet replaced Gruen Transfer after three seasons last September so the show could encompass a broader landscape.

"It's endless material because it's just about us," Sampson says.

"The reason the show works, I think, in my opinion is that it's not really about advertising or it's not really about the Olympics but it's really about us. It's really holding a mirror up to us, how we behave and think, what drives us and pushes us."

The father of two, who was born and raised in Canada, says he can't believe the success of the Gruen series since its inception in 2008.

"Four years on, I'm still surprised," he says. "I think that what's unique is that it's delivered via Wil in this comedic format.

"It's not Q&A . The comedy that Wil brings allows it to get into people better. The guards are down and it's more entertaining than it is confronting."

Sampson, who is the co-creator of the Earth Hour initiative, has crafted a solid place in the Australian media since Gruen began, often joining the panel for Ten's The Project.

"I've taken the approach that I'm just going to be me on the show. The person that's in the boardroom is the same person that's on TV," he explains.

"Sometimes it's touchy, you're talking about subjects that might make you uncomfortable but as long as you're telling the truth and being honest that's all people care about."

Gruen Sweat airs tomorrow at 8.30pm on ABC1.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Follow Us

More from The West