Tue | Apr 16, 2024

‘Jamaicanising’ the world one event at a time

Published:Sunday | August 27, 2023 | 12:10 AMJanet Silvera - Senior Gleaner Writer
From left: Maurice McNaughton, daughter Lianne and son, Luke, directors of Jamaica Sports 876 at the World Athletics Championships inside the National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary.
Olive McNaughton, managing director, Jamaica Sports 876, cheering inside the National Athletics Centre at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Friday.
Jamaican track and field supporters at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary, for the World Athletics Championships.
Jamaican supporters in the stands during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Gladstone Taylor/Multimedia Photo Editor Jamaican supporters in the stands during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
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WESTERN BUREAU: IT HAS been her vision since 2008 to create a Jamaican brand presence in stadiums throughout the world, and Olive McNaughton has done what others can only dream of. In the last 10 years, McNaughton, through her Jamaica Sports 876,...

WESTERN BUREAU:

IT HAS been her vision since 2008 to create a Jamaican brand presence in stadiums throughout the world, and Olive McNaughton has done what others can only dream of.

In the last 10 years, McNaughton, through her Jamaica Sports 876, has been promoting Brand Jamaica, its athletes and booking ‘sport-cations’ for supporters attending international sporting events in Beijing, London, Moscow, Doha, Berlin, Oregon and Rio.

Most recently, she had an intimate group at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and Australia and at the Netball World Cup in South Africa.

In Budapest, McNaughton has about 120 sporting fans attending the 19th World Athletics Championships.

“It’s been 10 years since our first campaign in Moscow 2013 where I figured we had a lovely time. Both Shelly-Ann (Fraser-Pryce) and Elaine (Thompson Herah) got the World Athlete of the Year,” she reminisced.

But it was at the Beijing Olympics that she saw Jamaicans all over the place. Subsequent to that, she asked the organisers in London and Moscow for finish-line tickets for her people.

By 2017, the UK organisers knew McNaughton, because she made sure to meet with the head of ticketing for the WAC in London, and carved out an area for Jamaicans in the stadium.

“I marked X for the Jamaicans and we got over 300 seats at the finish line and other places. Normally, because I know Jamaicans are accustomed to finish-line seats, I work hard, I negotiate,” she explained.

This year (2023), she said she had to write to the World Championships because they were giving her people seats all over the arena. “I said ‘no Jamaicans are coming this far to sit at ‘woi woi’ [very far]’.” Jamaica is approximately 14 hours flying time from Hungary.

Once McNaughton spoke with the ticket people, and became an authorised ticket reseller for World Athletics, she said she ensured that Jamaicans got finish-line tickets.

“This year’s finish-line tickets were a bit pricey, but I made sure all my people were seated together.”

The energy generated in the stadium by the presence of the Jamaicans in the stands is testimony of the impact Jamaica Sports 876 is having on athletics, football and netball.

“They see us there supporting them, blocks of Jamaicans wearing black, green, and gold. It’s a good look in the stadium, we as Jamaicans are creating that brand visibility for our country.”

She is of the opinion that Jamaica is the only country with brand presence in the stands. Not even the Hungarians were prepared for the ‘Jamination’. The Jamaicans don Jamaica Sports 876 shirts on particular days, and PUMA and other companies on others.

“Different companies take a day where they are given visibility,” said McNaughton.

As soon as a city is identified as the next venue for global sporting events, McNaughton’s Jamaica Sports 876 goes into activation mode.

“It takes almost five years to plan properly, and about two and half to organise the whole logistics, the hotels, event tickets, the transfers, tours, and try and create these memorable moments. Most contracts must be in place at least 18 months to two years ahead.”

For years, Jamaica has been touting the idea of sports tourism, but McNaughton doesn’t think the island has capitalised on the Usain Bolt era, and with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s imminent retirement, she is uncertain about the level with which the country will go to ensure this happens.

Already, Jamaicans in the stadium cannot walk five minutes without being asked to take a photograph with people of all nationalities.

“I sat beside two persons today who said they love Jamaica, they’ve been on holiday at Half Moon three times and they’re looking to come back to Jamaica.”

McNaughton’s business, which she runs along with her husband Maurice, daughter Lianne and son Luke, has been welcomed by some of her most dedicated clients, such as attorney-at-law Hugh Small, Montego Bay businesswoman Rena Forbes, Floridian-Jamaican Odie Donaldson, and PricewaterhouseCoopers Leighton McKnight, who are all on the Budapest trip.

“Olive has done an outstanding job, making us all feel comfortable, getting to the venues on time, and taking care of our individual needs, I am so proud of her,” said Small.

McDonald spoke of a consummate professional, whose work and tenacity has allowed her to see Jamaica making history again.

“We appreciate her, she is great. Through her work we are united as a people.”

McNaughton, who has a degree in marketing and management studies from The University of the West Indies, Mona, was a marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz, where she said she developed her skill in brand experience.

In the last 10 days, McNaughton has got three hours sleep per night, put she is pushing on, because this seems to be her destiny.

The 2024 Olympics is next on her list

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com