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

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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!

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    A lot of the international comment particularly from the USA thought the industrial revolution sequence was a celebration of Lord of the Rings. I like that they dumbed it down themselves rather than us having to make it simple. Value for money? Yes, every single penny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I watched the live feed of the opening ceremony at the Hyde Park opening concert and I have to say how proud I was to be British. The 50,000 strong crowd at the concert roared with pleasure at every aspect of the ceremony and in some cases drowning out the magnificent Snow Patrol when the legend Chris Hoy appeared on the video screen leading out team GB.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    You have to love the moaners on here. We can all sit in front of our computer saying it's not right to spend money when the purse strings are tight but what are you as individuals going to achieve, nothing, it's happened now, continue moaning and live a miserable life or simply get a smile on your faces and live the moment, you won't be around to see it again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    £27Million of unnecessary expense - tasteless

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    it was OK but i thought that OUR Queen & services would of played a big part, to show off just how Traditional we as a country are !

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Ironic that the NHS was showcased to the world as an example of British excellence when so much of it has been hacked away - £27m might have saved my local hospital from closure.
    Mr Bean was generally seen as the best bit of the whole thing.
    What does the world think? Probably that the British are tres weird!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    James Bond's short clip (mainly the 'Queen' jumping from the plane) and Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) were the only brilliant parts. It also started off good but went downhill fast.

    I'm disappointed. I wasn't expecting something as brilliant as the Beijing opening ceremony, however I was expecting something very good. Was it worth £27m? No

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I'm abroad and nobody watched it here. They're all watching the Olympic events though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I think it will be seen as both disrespectful (to H.M. The Queen) and an act of reverse hubris at the very least.

    It is only wise to publicly belittle ones self for "a laugh" from a position of strength - if we have 10 gold medals at the end then O.K. If not then we have signaled to billions of people that we are finished!

    The now infamous "tweet" was spot on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Opening ceremony - £27m.
    James Bond sequence - priceless!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Comment no 8

    Decimal point in wrong place!

    It cost about 1.7 hours of deficit, so excellent value.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    To my knowledge there has been little if any carping about the price since Friday night

    Most of us are just relieved that the endless hype is over for good

    Now the athletes can finally get on with doing their thing and it's only going to last about 2 weeks

    ...unlike the hype, which droned on and on and on for months

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    If we are to look at the cost as part of the PR budget for the nation then it seems very cheap. Equivalent to about 17 hours of government deficit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Wow! Boyle's living tableau, underlined by Branagh, Bean & Rowling, framing agrarian idyll & industrial inequality into order & anarchy, ideals & hypocrisy celebrating Britain's diversity, social justice, personal freedom, & striving for excellence. It's the message of the Games. Together we're capable of greatness. Not for profit, but acknowledging each other and ourselves.

    Olympian indeed!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Danny (& team) did good, we looked good, I felt good! It was a tough gig for all concerned. We put up our best and brightest, they stand up against what the rest of the World has to offer as worth knowing about, it was a good day to be a Brit.


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