Advertising Week Europe kicked off across London today with a series of sessions on thought leadership - including several looking back to last summer's Olympics and the lessons that were learned there.

BAFTA's Piccadilly headquarters was humming as a capacity crowd packed in to hear Sir Martin Sorrell CEO of WPP, turn interviewer and discuss the art of winning with Sir Dave Brailsford, the performance director of the highly successful Great Britain cycling team, which won eight gold medals at the 2012 Games.

"If you want to win you need clarity," was Brailsford's conclusion. That means having a vision and understanding the key priorities in achieving that vision. Brailsford talked of his focus on outcomes and the need to work on those targets that are within your control. Reminding athletes that they can only give their best is a way of reassuring them and preventing them from becoming distracted by other factors.

And in remarks that may have relevance for data scientists, the sports scientist that is Brailsford noted that data is not just about numbers: it can paint a picture, but the art is in recognising that picture and finding a way of putting it into everyday life.

Earlier, a panel discussed the creative approach to the Games. Nick Sykes, CEO of Futurebrand Europe, described the collaborative method behind the design that stretched across both the Olympics and Paralympics and fed into 27,000 deliverables, from the stadium to pin badges.

A "collective, rigorous tussle" was how Martin Green, LOCOG head of ceremonies, remembered the work done for the opening and closing ceremonies of both sets of Games. 

Chairing this session, former soccer player Graeme le Saux reminded the audience of a comment in the Independent newspaper that Channel 4's television coverage of the Paralympics had been "an act of branding genius". From the "Thanks for the warm-up" posters to the "Meet the superhumans" ads, there was a lack of mawkishness or pity that Matt Buckhurst of Channel 4 said had helped shock people out of their apathy.

The need for teamwork was echoed by Nikki Crumpton, chief strategy officer at McCann London, as she related the get togethers needed both to establish the story of the Games – "Pushing past your personal best" – and to then get both stakeholders and the entire nation on the same page. She also remarked that for all the talk of ROI, a more interesting measurement was return on involvement, as she noted how Lloyds Bank and Coca-Cola had thrown themselves into the organisation of the torch relay.

The head of the 2012 Games' organising committee had a session to himself. Lord Coe, recently returned from Rio de Janeiro, emphasised that Olympic sponsorship was a partnership. Good partners embed themselves over a five-year period, he said, and he too had good things to say about Lloyds and its funding of talent and school games.

More generally he observed that sport provides an opportunity to fill a gap in trust and to be a potent social worker in communities. Companies that activate around that can grab some of that "trust landscape", he suggested.