Commonwealth Games England Aim to build a ‘winning England movement’ 
Commonwealth Games England (CGE) is looking to maintain the successful momentum of Glasgow 2014, where they topped the medal table for the first time in 30 years by building a ‘movement’ that can attract top-tier sponsors.
With the next Commonwealth Games set for the Gold Coast, Australia in 2018, CGE is looking to “use its positive assets” to help bring partners on board, Nick Evans, head of commercial at CGE, told Marketing Week.
“We want to build a winning England movement,” Evans said.
“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.”
He said 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,” he said, adding that the interest in a home-based Olympics “transformed” the public’s appetite for The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which became the fifth largest global sporting tournament (measured by ticket sales and TV audience) after what he calls “a tough few years”.
“The whole experience and occasion really put the games as a sporting property back on the map,” he added. ”Glasgow 2014 did such a great job, added to the fact it was a quasi-home games with excellent TV and media coverage really helped to stir public interest and revitalise the Commonwealth Games Movement.”
“It really was an excellent opportunity for Team England to build the brand, increase digital reach and of course develop assets that future sponsors want to work with and be part of. New heroes were born and of course the iconic athletes provided those special moments that global multi-sport games seems to stir in the public. Winning 58 Gold medals and topping the table was a huge success to our brand and the whole interest in Team England and the Games.”
However, the success has also brought its own challenges.
“We have to work hard as a property,” Evans said. “We don’t have a Home games event every month or year so we have to become relevant between Games time too and be creative. ”
Losing the home advantage
While the home games in Glasgow captured the public’s attention, with an elevated “commercial activation and income” according to Evans, CGE is now facing pressure as it prepares for the Gold Coast.
“We will not enjoy the benefits a quasi ‘Home Games’ brings,” he said. “It will be challenging. We have to be realistic but also creative.”
Plans involve digital activation, as with CGE’s 17 sports and 400 athletes its social media reach is over 10 million.
“We will have to work double hard in order to capture the public’s imagination and interest,” he added. “The Australia v England ‘revenge games’ are always an interesting narrative and will undoubtedly stir the public’s interest.”
He says CGE also plans to drive as much interest as possible through its commercial partners, which are as important as ever.
“The level of investment required in order to provide the athletes and team with all the facilities and support and preparation since 2012 is demanding,” he added.
Using athletes as assets to attract sponsors
Last month CGE announced its first 2018 partner, IT firm CGI, which will look after IT and outsourcing for Team England, Team Wales and Team Scotland annually as well as during the Gold Coast Games. CGI will also help fund a number of its athletes both in 2018 and at the Youth Games in 2017.
The partnership is also a chance for CGE to use its assets that “cross over into the world of business”, with plans to encourage CGI’s staff to develop healthier lifestyles by providing access to athletes, sports, coaches and nutrition experts.
“Staff engagement is one of our key benefits we can help deliver to our commercial partners – through our access to many of England’s most admired athletes, performance coach’s, fitness programmes and nutritionists” Evans said. “Many brands are looking at ways to help their work force be fit, healthy and well. We can help them to do this. Hopefully it will show the marketplace that three years out we’re not about 2018. It’s about building an England movement.”
CGE has also announced STA travel as its official travel partner and recently announced a deal with Grange Hotels.
“We’re looking at creative ways to generate income such as a potential principal partner with naming rights, but we have restrictions, like Team GB, around logos on the field of play or on competition wear,” Evans said. “We’re working with Scotland and Wales to offer a UK-wide home nations sponsor. We are looking at new ways all the time to help support the team and athletes.”
CGE is currently in discussions about a kit partnership, may bring in a “specific youth partner”, and sees opportunities in potential partnerships with finance, insurance, foreign exchange, telecoms and swimwear brands in addition to English and British ones. 
“It’s not just about top end brands though. We want to create a family of suppliers, supporters and SME’s to support the Team and deliver a return to our supporters. We consider ourselves inclusive of all. ”
Launching a long-term vision
“We want to use the games, the sports and athletes and what we stand for as a higher purpose for good,” he says. “We represent a truly inclusive team. Able and para bodied athletes, emerging talent and elite stars, male and female, team and individual. All from different social and demographic divides. It’s such a dynamic and vast property, if we can help inspire people to play one of the 17 sports, or to get healthier or to engage the public through iconic athlete moments or community programmes, or even to feel good about being English or help for social good in communities, with young athletes then we really are building a winning England movement and we want everyone to follow us on the journey.” 
*This piece has been edited for the CGE website