3 brands who have gold medal Olympic marketing campaigns

3 brands who have gold medal Olympic marketing campaigns

The Olympics are a time when the world stops amazed at the magnificent athleticism of our countrymen and women. No matter who you are — whether you are a keen sportsperson or a proudly certified couch potato — you can take joy and pride in the spectacle.

This is a key lesson for marketers. The Olympics are truly for everybody, not just for sporting brands. By being savvy, authentic and respectful, there is no reason your company can’t get into the spirit of the event in order to connect with like minded people. Taking our cues from three Gold medal campaigns, we look at how three unlikely companies created gold medal Olympic marketing campaigns at the Rio Olympics 2016.

General Electric 

You would think that GE has as much in common with sporting excellence as donuts have to a well-balanced diet. However, GE has been a TOP (an Olympic Partner) for several Olympic cycles. According to The Australian, GE has completed more than 1000 Olympic infrastructure projects worth $US 1.5 billion, including 170 in Rio.

Chris Katsuleres, director of Olympic marketing and sales for GE acknowledges the unusual pairing:

‘“We’re an industrial company. So why the Olympics for GE?” he asks. “There’s a lot of infrastructure requirements for the Games and that works well for us — eight of our businesses are doing work in Rio. But we also have 300,000 employees and (the Olympics) resonate. There’s a connection.’

Instead of focusing on the athletes, GE praises all the people involved in making the Olympics the fabulous celebration that it is with a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation involved in their Drone videos.

These videos are supplemented with a very strong social media campaign, particularly targeting facebook. What makes this campaign so strong is the idea that the Olympics aren’t just made by the athletes, but many people from all walks of life and industries have to come together to create a spectacle of this magnitude.

Procter and Gamble ‘Proud sponsor of mums’

While GE look at the Olympics as a large scale event, Procter and Gamble have taken a much more intimate angle. Procter and Gamble are a leading manufacturer of beauty, hygiene and household goods and have spent several Olympic campaigns focusing on the key role mums play in teaching their athletic offspring the lessons that get them to an elite level.

They have created a number of wildly successful video campaigns (Their Rio youtube video has had over 20 million views to date) focusing on the small moments of support that mothers give their children that allow them to learn strength, grace and endurance.

While the ad is about the relationship of these athletes and their mothers, it is the universal experience that makes this campaign so effective. What is also intriguing about this campaign is that, unlike GE, Procter and Gamble have chosen to focus on the narrative rather than put the spotlight on their products. As Ad Week suggests:

‘Those images, connecting public glory to personal love and dedication, have become a visual shorthand for P&G's Olympic marketing and continue to nicely position the packaged-goods company, in its behind-the-scenes role, as the champion and enabler of mothers everywhere (who are themselves, in a nice parallel dynamic, champions and enablers of their offspring.)’

By letting mums be the star of the ads, Procter and Gamble are creating a lot of emotion that will subconsciously be linked to their brand. You only have to read some of the YouTube comments to understand how much these videos connect with people. Some of the comments include:

‘I have actually never cried in a youtube vid or ad until now. very touching and well done. take care of your moms, they're always there for you, so be sure to be there for them and never take them for granted.’


‘First time ever not clicking the skip button. I went from being a little intrigued to overwhelmed. Miss you mom.... ‘

IBM: An oldie but a goodie

IBM used the Nagano winter Olympics to look at the potential of this thing called the internet:

IBM humorously takes a very difficult concept and shows how it could affect everyday life. Considering that Rio has been described as the first real Olympics of the mobile age, the ad can count ‘prophetic’ among its many positive qualities.

Key takeaways

What the above examples all do really well is use the Olympics as a platform to examine inclusivity, community and celebration. In all three campaigns the focus is the Olympic experience and sharing in that with their customers, rather than making their product the star. And this doesn’t just work for the Olympics. As long as you ensure that your campaign is authentic, there is no reason why you can’t show the human side of your brand and engage in a universal human experience.

Want to know more about trends in marketing? Then you need to download our 2016 2016 CeBIT Australia Digital Marketing Summary Report today!

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