Team GSK: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 36

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) leveraged its sponsorship of the London 2012 Summer Olympics to boost employee engagement with a series of Olympics-themed programs under the Team GSK banner.

GSK at the Olympics

GSK was the Official Provider of Laboratory Services for anti-doping at London 2012 and played a critical role in delivering the cleanest games by bringing science to the games. GSK ensured that every single medallist and at least 50 percent of the athletes were tested for banned substances, making the 2012 Olympics most tested ever.

Jonathan Harris, Head of Anti-Doping at The Organising Committee for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said:

The fight against doping within sport continues. GSK have been instrumental in providing services to help us deliver the anti-doping programme for the Games and with their help we have a state of the art laboratory with the ability to process a record number of tests during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.” 

In addition to supporting the games and improving its reputation, GSK leveraged its sponsorship to engage employees. Employee engagement was embedded in most of GSK’s programmes around the games; in fact, GSK was the only sponsor to give all of its Olympics tickets to its employees.The company’s goal was to increase awareness of the sponsorship and to instill a sense of pride amongst its employees.

What is ‘Team GSK’?

Source: SAS London

SAS London, part of MSLGROUP, developedthe visual identity and name ‘Team GSK’ to unite GSK’s vast range of Olympic-related employee initiatives – from ticketing competitions to Gold Challenge and ‘Orange’ (Volunteering) Days – under one memorable banner. Internal initiatives included an intranet and digital communications, installations, a travelling exhibition, competitions (Golden Ticket, Search for the Torchbearers, Strike a pose, win a prize), an ambassador programme and a corporate challenge.

 ‘Golden Ticket’ Competition

Golden Ticket 3

The first phase of the engagement programme centered around Golden Ticket – a ticketing competition to celebrate inspiring achievements amongst employees. Golden Ticket had the backing of senior management, and was launched by CEO Andrew Witty in his end of year address.

As part of the competition, GSK asked employees to nominate colleagues who demonstrated actions in their daily lives or work that resembled Olympic values. Nominated employees had the opportunity to win tickets to the games.  GSK was the only corporate partner of the London 2012 Games to use 100% of their ticket allocation to reward and recognise their employees.

2,067 employees from 83 countries were nominated for the ticketing competition.

Akhila Natrajan, Account Manager, India, MSLGROUP pointed out that the initiative – and the prize – were perfect tools to boost morale:

“GSK actually opted to give out 100% of all the tickets to their employees. What a better way to go about this than to actually ask co-workers to recommend their colleagues? This, for me, has been the highlight of the entire process. In an ever-changing business landscape which presents a challenging working environment for many employees, I’m sure this has been a great morale booster to all employees internally.”

 Olympic Fever at GSK

GSK organized various initiatives in the workplace to bring the experience to life, and to spread the Olympic spirit. There were internal installations such as banners, posters and plasma screens to help bring ‘Team GSK’ to offices. In addition, a ‘Team GSK’ exhibition went on a tour of UK sites at the start of 2012, and included inspirational talks by Team GSK athlete ambassadors.

Athlete- GSK talk 4

Louisa Moreton, Director of Talent Communications and Consultancy at SAS, explained that campaign came to life through both online and offline activities including an internal microsite which is seen as ground-breaking in both structure, functionality and look & feel and has attracted up to 29,000 employees in the critical month of the campaign. The campaign has also been supported with more traditional awareness raising materials, as well as a network of champions, blogs & message boards and competitions. GSK launched this programme in January 2012 and is already the leading corporate participant (out of over 100 corporates) in terms of employee participation.

 Inspire. Nominate. Reward.

Inspire GSK 5

To kick-start activity around the ticketing competition, GSK invited employees to become ambassadors or Champions for the programme. Over 90 people volunteered to become Champions for the programme and played an important role in increasing peer-to-peer recommendations and ensuring adoption of the Team GSK programmes.

GSK wanted to reach out to as many offices and countries as possible, and connected its community of champions on internal social networking platform Yammer to facilitate collaboration and sharing.

 Search for the Torchbearers

Source: GSK Facebook Page

As part of the sponsorship, GSK was given two places in the Olympic torch relay. In September 2011, the company launched a London 2012 Torchbearer competition, and employees were invited to nominate each other for the chance to win a place.

Kerry O’Callaghan, head of global brand communications at GSK commented that GSK was looking for two people who had made a positive difference in their local community by inspiring youth:

“We ran the competition locally and were astounded to receive 377 entries from 50 countries – it was beyond our expectations.
“It’s testament to the number of committed employees across GSK who are making an enormous difference to the lives of young people across the world.”

GSK’s global news release received over 18,000 hits following the announcement of the torchbearer winners.

Strike a pose, win a prize

Another competition organized was Strike a pose win a prize – Employees had to either take their photo or a group of colleagues, in a sporting pose. They had to also write what inspired theirsporting pose and the location at which they were based. There were 15 prizes up for grabs and the winning entries were displayed on the Team GSK website.

The Gold Challenge

Gold Challenge 8


In January 2012, GSK launched the Gold Challenge – a corporate challenge that invited employees to participate in Olympic and Paralympic themed activities to raise money for charity. Over 2,400 participants in 252 teams from 43 countries took part in the Gold Challenge. Of the 100 corporates that joined the challenge, GSK saw the highest employee participation – a clear sign that the company had successfully energized its people around the games.

Integrating employee stories into mainline messaging

GSK also integrated the employee-focus into its mainline activities. GSK had launched an advertising campaign to highlight the role of anti-doping science at London 2012. The campaign featured British Olympians and Paralympians Phillips Idowu, Beth Tweddle, David Weir, Graham Edmunds and Marlon Devonish and celebrated the motivation and ambition that drives athletes to perform and win drug-free.

The campaign was also promoted on GSK’s social media channels including YouTubeFlickrTwitter and Facebook. GSK ensured it highlighted its own employee athletes alongside the celebrity athletes.

GSK employee Sophie Troiano represented Team GB at London 2012 and was featured on the GSK Facebook page (via Engagement Strategy)

 The comprehensive ‘Team GSK’ program helped GSK win a RAD Award in 2013 for employee communications.

 Continuing Engagement

GSK leveraged its sponsorship of the Olympics and the high energy around Team GSK to promote its general schedule of employee engagement programs both during and after the games.

Clare Brosnan, Programme Manager for London 2012 at GSK, said:

“ ’Team GSK’ has become a galvanising force for both new existing programmes that had previously sat in silos, from a sporting charity challenge, to employee volunteering and science outreach programmes to health and well-being. This has been particularly useful for the smaller programmes that have been able to benefit from the planning, and budget, of Team GSK to raise profile. Although the sponsorship of London 2012 will conclude for good at the end of this year, many of the other programmes will continue as part of business as usual and the hope – and all the signs – are that their association with Team GSK will increase awareness and participation.”

GSK last 10

 Source: Marketing week

MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.

As an example, 100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on reputation, employee engagement and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network.

Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.We have further synthesized the insights from 2012 to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights Annual Report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, also available as a Kindle eBook.

As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at

Annie Sunny

3 Responses to “Team GSK: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 36”

  1. @SAS_Insights

    RT @NidhiMakhija: Latest @PeoplesLab post: GSK’s Olympian employee engagement program around its London 2012 sponsorship…

  2. @AmeyaKing

    Team GSK: People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 36 via @PeoplesLab #Read

  3. MSLGROUP Peoples Lab (@PeoplesLab)

    #FollowFriday Follow @SAS_Insights ! For inspiring examples of employee engagement, like Team GSK


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