As the Greatest Show on Earth packs up and rolls out of town, the results of the final wave of JWT’s Olympic Mood tracker are in.
This month, we finally saw the huge upsurge in excitement about the Games that we’ve been expecting. We might have moaned and tutted our way through the build-up but once the first medals were in the bag, we threw ourselves into the whole event with gusto.
As a result, an overwhelming majority now believe the Games will prove to be a good thing for Britain, up by a further 21% since our last wave. But in what way do Brits think we’ll benefit? We decided to probe a little further this month and the results are fascinating.
As the Olympic withdrawal symptoms well and truly kick in, pride in Britain remains strong (7.70 out of 10) with a negligible drop of 0.08.
The fact that there has been no further uplift since the Games began is perhaps less of a surprise than it first seems.
As JWT’s recent report Britain…the Best Bits revealed, we Brits are a self-deprecating lot. Reserved in nature, we don’t really like to be gung-ho and blow our own trumpets too much.
Compare the sheepish bell-ringing of Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins at the Opening Ceremony with the bold posturing of some of the sprinters. For us, perhaps a score of 7 out of 10 is as proud as we get.
Notably, the 55+ age group has been the proudest across every single wave of our mood tracker, peaking in June, which neatly coincides with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This begs the question – does pride in one’s nation grow with age? Or does the younger generation simply care less about notions of Britishness?
Excitement has been ticking along nicely on a gradual incline since February. But this month we asked Brits how excited they were during the Games.*
A massive 81% agreed that they were on the edge of their seats, an upsurge of 30% on July alone.
Those who strongly agreed that they found the Games exciting shot up even more sharply, from 19% to 46%, showing depth and strength of sentiment.
Over the 16 days of the Games, it did seem that the nation was riding a tidal wave of euphoria. We started our journey with a few niggles – the wrong flag here, some lost keys there, a few bewildered coach drivers here, there and everywhere – but gradually we began to believe that nothing would go seriously wrong. Perhaps, it might even go right?
After a nervous few days waiting for Team GB’s first gold, there came a veritable avalanche of them. Front pages were splashed with images of British successes day after day and GB soared to an unexpected third place in the table.
Added to this there was the upbeat mood of the volunteers and the cheery contribution from the military – we could scarcely believe how well it went.
We pressed our respondents on which aspects of the Games impressed them most and they were enthusiastic across the board, from the Opening Ceremony to the BBC coverage. But appropriately it was the athletes who stole the show with Team GB’s performance most highly rated (8.6 out of 10), followed by the many outstanding sporting achievements on show (8.4).
Our favourite golden moment from the Games was fittingly that of Jessica Ennis, the face of the Games, on whose shoulders so many hopes rested. Mighty Mo Farah managed to take both second and third place in our list with his epic victories in the 10,000m and 5,000m.
A huge uplift in the final metric in our tracker shows that if the nation had any lingering doubts over the contribution the Games would make, they have been well and truly swept away on a tide of good feeling. And LOCOG can pat themselves on the back, as their motto ‘inspire a generation’ seems to have hit home with the 18-34s – a whopping 91% of them are in agreement that the Olympics will be a good thing for the nation.
Taking into account all the mud thrown at these Games – security worries, the travel disruption, the ticket fiasco and of course the ballooning cost of hosting the event – it’s something of an achievement to have won over the British public so handsomely. Just 1 in 10 disagreed that the Olympics will be a good thing for Britain.
Anyone who spent the last two weeks in Britain would testify to a growing buzz of elation which felt delightful but also almost alien to us. As a nation, we have no British day of celebration in our calendar and so many factors do more to divide our countries than unite them. But for once, we felt as one. As a Norwegian visitor commented to the Guardian last week, ‘this is the first time I have felt British people are really celebrating Britain.’
It is principally our feelings about Britain which have seen a positive change though; ever-cynical Brits are less convinced that there will be long-term practical benefits. When we asked our respondents how they thought Britain might change after the Olympics, a boost to British pride (77% agree), an enhanced international reputation (73%), as well as a stronger sense of national identity (72%), topped the list. But tellingly, most Brits don’t believe that the Games will have a beneficial impact on Britain’s economic recovery (only 25% agree). The return on investment, it seems, is predominantly emotional rather than financial.
So as the torch is extinguished, the strains of ‘Imagine’ finally fade out and the last Union Jack is folded away – for a couple of weeks at least – was it all worth it? Our respondents seem to think so, giving the Games a cracking success rating of 8.4 out of 10. In fact 61% scored it a 9 or above.
Overall, we believe there’s a whiff of optimism in our results. Brits aren’t blind to the realities of the problems which face our nation, but we have discovered a new joy in our country and what it can achieve when it puts its mind to it. We can’t be sure where all this positivity will lead – and already surveys are predicting that the fuzzy glow will quickly subside – but come on, it was one hell of a ride.
|Top 10 ways Britain might change after the Olympics||
|People will feel prouder of Britain||
|Other countries will have a more positive image of Britain||
|People will feel the country has a stronger identity||
|People will feel more British||
|People will be more inclined to participate in Olympic sports||
|We will become even stronger as a sporting nation||
|Our tourism industry will experience a boom||
|People will feel more connected to their local community||
|People will feel more confident about the country’s future||
|The nation will become healthier / fitter||
|Top 10 ways the Olympics impressed respondents||
Total (scale 1-10)
|The performance of Team GB overall/medal haul||
|The great sporting achievements on show||
|The atmosphere in Britain as host nation||
|The Olympic venues||
|The opening ceremony||
|The BBC’s TV coverage||
|The camaraderie of the athletes||
|Top 10 favourite Gold medals||
|Jessica Ennis (women’s heptathlon)||
|Mo Farah (men’s 10,000m – athletics)||
|Mo Farah (men’s 5,000m – athletics)||
|Andy Murray (men’s singles – tennis)||
|Chris Hoy (men’s keirin – cycling)||
|Bradley Wiggins (men’s time trial – cycling)||
|Alistair Brownlee (men’s triathlon)||
|Nicola Adams (women’s flyweight – boxing)||
|Victoria Pendleton (women’s keirin – cycling)||
|Ben Ainslie (finn – sailing)||
Click here for July’s Olympic Mood Tracker
Note: JWT surveyed 350 British citizens on 13 August 2012. Regional samples have been weighted to nationally representative.
1. On a scale of 1-10 (where 1=not at all proud and 10=extremely proud) can you tell us how proud you are to be British?
2. Do you think the Olympic Games will be a good thing for Britain?
3. Did you find the Olympic Games exciting?
4. How do you think Britain might change after the Olympics?
5. To what extent did the following aspects of the Olympics impress you?
6. Do you think the Olympic Games were a success?
7. Team GB won 29 gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics – but which performances were your favourites? Please choose your *THREE* favourite gold medal-winning performances from the list below.
* In waves 1-6 of our research this question read “How far would you agree that you are excited about the Olympic Games this Summer?”