Games a Massive Distraction

17:55 Friday 10th August 2012
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: Well it’s official. London 2012 has made us a more positive nation. Research released by a conversation tracking word-of-mouth expert company reveals that during the first week of the Games, discussions about crime, energy costs and economic woes dramatically decreased, because everyone was talking about just one thing, the Games. Steve Thompson is MD of that company. It’s called Keller Fay UK, and apparently they can track everyday conversations across the UK. A bit worrying Steve. How do you do that?
STEVE THOMSON: We do it in a very open way. We survey people basically. So we don’t do anything sneaky or underhand. We just ask people to make a note of the things they talk about for a day, and tell us the next day what they talked about, basically.
CHRIS MANN: So tell us how things changed since the start of the Olympics.
STEVE THOMSON: Well obviously the Games themselves became the real talking point, and that shouldn’t be any surprise to anybody. But what was nice to see was that some of the tough challenges in life, people did seem prepared to put them aside for a little while. It’s not to say they’ve gone away for ever, but just suspend some of the doom and gloom stuff and focus on what was something positive going on around them. And that was what was happening. So yes, as you mentioned, people talking less about their own financial concerns, jobs , job seeking, that kind of thing. These are real concerns, and we musn’t belittle them. But at least people could forget about their troubles for a little while.
CHRIS MANN: The feel-good factor was kicking in.
STEVE THOMSON: Yes, definitely.
CHRIS MANN: One of the things that we have heard anecdotally, and having been to the Olympic Games myself and down to London for a couple of days to be there, is actually people are talking more, to strangers, to each other.
STEVE THOMSON: Well definitely. That is anecdotal, but absolutely. People seem to have enjoyed those kind of interactions, especially if you’ve been in and around London and the Games themselves. I think they’ve enjoyed just bumping into complete strangers, visitors from overseas, and having something to engage with them about. So I think that’s given people quite a lift. But what we’ve seen with our data is that the engagement with the Games, the interest in it, is spread out around the country quite nicely. It’s always been stronger, the closer you are to London, but definitely in the East of England, and areas not too far from the capital. People have definitely got interested in the Games, and become more engaged with it.
CHRIS MANN: Do you think Usain Bolt is the most mentioned name?
STEVE THOMSON: Well I should think he is today, certainly. Definitely he is the star of the Games, I think. There’s been some .. earlier in the week there was something put out that suggested that it was some of the American athletes. But that’s all based on just Twitter and Facebook, and not the kind of real conversations that we measure, which are people talking in their homes, in the street, at work, rather than just in social media. So we’re always looking at it from a broader standpoint. And these are the things that people talk about.
CHRIS MANN: Steve, nice to talk to Big Brother at last.
STEVE THOMSON: (LAUGHS) Oh, we’re not that underhand you know. It’s all very in the open. But .. everyday conversation.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Well nice to talk to you. Thank you, Steve Thomson MD of Keller Fay UK.