BE­YOND THE BAN­NERS

Amy John­son, Chief Devel­op­ment Of­fi­cer for The Look Com­pany’s Mid­dle East op­er­a­tions, ex­plains how the work they do is big­ger than ban­ners, flags and signs; it’s de­fin­i­tive of the look and feel of the event.

Qatar Today - - CONTENTS -

Amy John­son, Chief Devel­op­ment Of­fi­cer for The Look Com­pany's Mid­dle East op­er­a­tions, ex­plains how the work they do is big­ger than ban­ners, flags and signs; it's de­fin­i­tive of the look and feel of the event.

Sports is in Amy John­son's blood; or rather, the busi­ness of sports. Even be­fore the Toronto-based fam­ily busi­ness was rein­vented around the turn of the mil­len­nium to be­come what is now The Look Com­pany, she would travel with her fa­ther and grand­fa­ther to sport­ing events across North Amer­ica that they were work­ing on and soak it all up. “Be­fore I knew it, I was break­ing down the bill of quan­ti­ties on a prod­uct,” she laughs. It was only nat­u­ral that she join the com­pany right out of uni­ver­sity and help de­velop it in its new avatar.

“Our fo­cus, the ‘Look of the Game', wasn't a widely used term in the late 90s and 2000s. Peo­ple were still talk­ing in terms of ban­ners and flags and brand­ing but we wanted to de­fine this con­cept at the com­pany, de­velop and ex­pand on it,” she says. They must have done it right be­cause 15 years later the two-per­son com­pany has grown to em­ploy over 300 peo­ple across two con­ti­nents.

What is re­mark­able about the young com­pany is not just its jour­ney to Qatar but what led it to put down its roots here. Start­ing with the 2001 Ed­mon­ton Track and Field Games, which was the first event she got to prop­erly sink her teeth into, John­son han­dled sev­eral high-pro­file events dur­ing her first few years in the com­pany that took her to Manch­ester (Com­mon­wealth Games, 2002 ), Dublin (Spe­cial Olympics, 2003) and fi­nally to Qatar in 2005 for the West Asian Games. “This busi­ness is about peaks and val­leys,” John­son says. “You go

to a city, set up shop, fin­ish the event and come back home. Which is what we did for five years.”

How­ever, Doha, the fu­ture site of their first in­ter­na­tional long-term of­fice, was ob­vi­ously dif­fer­ent. But why?

In 2005, Qatar was still a few years away from win­ning the host­ing rights for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and its sport­ing am­bi­tions were still a bit of a se­cret. “When we were in Doha we gath­ered from the higher pow­ers that sports was set to be­come an im­por­tant plat­form for the coun­try. Most of our com­pe­ti­tions opted for Dubai be­cause it seemed like the nat­u­ral thing to do but we had a real in­ter­est in build­ing some­thing in Qatar. Peo­ple out­side think that Qatar won the FIFA World Cup out of nowhere, but few peo­ple in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity re­mem­ber just how many world-class sport­ing events were al­ready hap­pen­ing here be­fore that. That's what at­tracted us to Qatar; we stayed and gov­ern­ment has kept its prom­ise to bring more and bet­ter sport­ing events to the coun­try. For us it has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence to work on so many great venues in the city and ex­per­i­ment with a lot of in­ter­est­ing ideas,” she says.

Most re­cently the com­pany was in­volved in the Men's Hand­ball Cham­pi­onship. “It was a very large event for us pri­mar­ily be­cause of the brand-new sta­di­ums which no one had worked on be­fore. There was no pre-ex­ist­ing data­base and we had to hire ex­tra staff and start from scratch,” John­son re­calls.

Giv­ing back to the coun­try

Over the decade The Look Com­pany's big­gest in­vest­ment in Qatar, John­son feels, is in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. “We have helped set the stan­dard for sport­ing events held in Qatar,” she says. Mem­o­ries Of Games (MOG) is an ini­tia­tive that the com­pany is par­tic­u­larly proud of. “We were keen on tak­ing care of the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­pect of our work; we were con­sid­er­ing re­pur­pos­ing the brand­ing ma­te­ri­als into ac­ces­sories like bags so that they all don't end up in the land­fill.” Qatar was the first place where MOG was im­ple­mented in a se­ri­ous way. Look­ing back she re­mem­bers just how much work it was to con­vince the sport­ing mar­ket and cor­po­rates to aban­don plas­tic in favour of fab­ric. “It re­quired a to­tal change in the men­tal­ity of how peo­ple print,” she says. But it all paid off when the Qatar Olympic Com­mit­tee de­cided to pick up and ex­pand on it. “Now they are tak­ing it in­ter­na­tional for us, with us. When­ever a del­e­ga­tion from the com­mit­tee goes abroad, they take th­ese prod­ucts to show other fed­er­a­tions the ben­e­fit of this pro­gramme and how they can be in­volved,” John­son says.

Out­do­ing the last event

While The Look Com­pany pro­vides turnkey so­lu­tions from con­sul­tancy and de­sign to in­stal­la­tion, and find­ing and ac­ti­vat­ing cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship, their strength lies in tailor­ing their so­lu­tions as per the client's needs and work­ing with lo­cal ad­ver­tis­ing and PR com­pa­nies to help take the spirit of the games across to fans. Their USP is the nu­anced un­der­stand­ing of the lit­tle de­tails that only years of sport­ing ex­pe­ri­ence can pro­vide, John­son feels. But they can also be big-pic­ture peo­ple when needed. “My dream event would be to work for any fed­er­a­tion that has a grand am­bi­tion and is open to think­ing out­side

A sam­ple of The Look Com­pany's work in the re­gion over the years

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