Was the opening ceremony worth £27m?

"The Queen" arrives at the opening ceremony

Was the £27million of taxpayers' money spent on Danny Boyle's 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony a good investment? In the weeks and months leading up to his three-hour spectacular, there had been many who thought not. To my knowledge there has been little if any carping about the price since Friday night.

In marketing terms, it always looked a good deal. Three hours of prime television real estate reaching a global audience of up to a billion people, with guaranteed international press coverage and an Oscar-wining director in charge to boot is worth a lot.

According to a recent article by Esquire columnist Stephen Marche, TV ad space during the Super Bowl is the most expensive in the world, costing about £75,000 a second - a big price for a big audience.

Using that as the benchmark, Boyle's blockbuster would have cost £810m for the air time alone, before adding on all the production costs. That's the price in TV ad spend terms. As to its PR value, well that's anybody's guess.

Olympics coverage online

Olympics images

My experience of PR companies is that they can't help themselves being overly positive and optimistic about the financial benefits of a campaign. A short mention on an obscure specialist website, for instance, can be deemed to be worth more than the Prada handbag from which the PR exec has fished out her PowerPoint report.

Suffice to say that front page and prime time coverage across the world's media - much of which has been positive - is worth a huge amount in PR terms. And, I suspect, in real terms.

Danny Boyle buried the cliched image of Britain that was so disastrously portrayed at the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony, which amounted to little more than an animated version of a tacky tourist concession at Heathrow airport.

Instead he showed the world that Britain is not arrogant and cold, but a country that is worth a visit, that these are indeed Isles of Wonder. And the world liked what it saw.

Good work, great value.

Annotated photo of the opening ceremony

Spot the submarines - see the full-size annotated photo of the opening ceremony

Will Gompertz Article written by Will Gompertz Will Gompertz Arts editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    It was well presented involved a large number of people, mostly volunteers. It was educational and clarified who invented the Internet, before the USA make a film about it. Some thinking the Industrial revolution theme was really a Harry Potter film set says it all. Excellent value and good 3D by the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    What is the point of "carping"about this total waste of money,at any time?
    No one takes any notice anyway,those (and there are plenty)who love spending other peoples money will always get their way in the money crazy country of ours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Thought it funny that American commentators didn't know who Tim Berners-Lee was. They just don't get it do they.?..we want people/ countries who can contribute something to the world with culture, history and sophistication. A little bit more than an hot-dog, know what I mean.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    It was entertaining, but short on "wonder" except for some of the children's literature sequence, and, except for three songs and some rugby footage, ignoring most of these isles in favour of the transformation from rural England to modern Britain.
    Since the details went straight over the heads of most non-British (and probably many British) who were the target audience?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    27milllion works out at 40p per person in Britain, and I for one would've paid a lot more than 40p to see that. Pretty good value for money if you ask me!


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