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Was the opening ceremony worth £27m?

Will Gompertz
Arts editor
@WillGompertzBBCon Twitter

image copyrightReuters

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.

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.

image copyrightAFP / BBC

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