Just do it!

In a recent survey by the social media measurement agency, Brandwatch, it was revealed that Nike is the brand most associated with the Olympic Games. Some people may not be surprised by this finding given Nike’s position in the world of sport, but the most surprising element about this is that Nike has never been an official sponsor of the International Olympic Committee and is not one of the London sponsors. A recent Ipsos Mori poll in the UK, also showed that 59% of people could not name a single Olympic sponsor! 

Another example of a non-official sponsor associating itself with the Games is Virgin Media’s hit advertising campaign starring Usain Bolt pretending to be Richard Branson, whilst their competitor and official Games sponsor, British Telecom, has so far produced no noticeable activation.

At the latest count there are 25 commercial brands sponsoring either the Olympic Top Programme or the London Olympics. This excludes all the official suppliers and providers of which there are many. So there are masses of brands involved in the project and each will have to find its way of engaging their target audience. 

It shows that a sponsorship contract is not enough to make a brand stand out, even one with such an iconic status as the Olympic Games. As these Games approach, sponsors are going to have to implement creative and engaging programmes that lift their brand to the top of a pile which is cluttered not only with other official sponsors but also brands, like Nike and Virgin Media, that are not sponsors but who have created the legitimacy and presence to figure. In addition to the clutter, the very restricted amount of in-stadium advertising and boarding makes it even tougher to leverage and exploit an Olympic sponsorship at any level. The final obstacle for official sponsors in the UK is that as coverage is on the BBC, the traditional option of advertising or “billboarding” around the programmes is not available to sponsors.  This reinforces the importance of activation in the sponsorship programmes. How else do make your brand stand out and ensure there is a lasting impact on the brand equity? How else do you create the link with those iconic Olympic rings that in turn creates a dynamic for your brand? 

It will be fascinating to see which brands stand out at the Olympics this year. This one time gathering of amateur athletes has now become one of the world’s most visible commercial platforms, where brands are vying for success. The question is can any of the official sponsors beat Nike to the line in the brand stakes. Let the Games begin!

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