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INTERVIEW


SIR KEITH MILLS A


BEHIND THE BID A global marketeer, Mills’ earlier career was with The Economist and The Financial Times 18 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital


“The opportunity to run the bid came completely out of the blue,” Mills says. “I had just launched Nectar and was getting a sailing team together for the America’s Cup, when Barbara Cassani – who was asked by the government, the Mayor of London and the British Olympic Associa- tion to form a bid company for London 2012 – approached me to come and run it. “Although I’d never actually been to an Olympic Games, this was in fact a very sophisticated marketing job. It was about building a product by selecting the ven- ues, the transport plans and the budget in order to put a bid book together. Then marketing or selling it to sport internation- ally – particularly to the 150 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members who were going to vote,” Mills explains. According to him, at that time, the UK’s reputation for hosting sports events was very poor. “We’d hosted very few major events over the previous 20 or 30 years and had in fact won the right to hold the World Athletic Championships, but gave it back because we couldn’t build a sta- dium. That type of thing doesn’t go down very well internationally. We were punch- ing below our weight in the international federations so we were not in a good place,” Mills says. “However, when I did a back of the envelope analysis of the other


Issue 4 2011 © cybertrek 2011


Karen Maxwell talks to the deputy chair of LOCOG about winning the bid and the progress made on the ambitious London 2012 legacy promises so far


sk Sir Keith Mills – one of the most successful British entre- preneurs – about his greatest professional achievement and without hesitation he


says: “winning the bid to host the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games”. Best known for developing, owning, managing, buying and selling loyalty schemes – such as Air Miles and the Nec- tar Card – throughout the world – Mills is used to taking on ambitious ventures. Which is why, although he admits he pre- viously knew nothing about the Olympic Games, he readily accepted the call to lead the London 2012 campaign back in 2003.


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