The Olympic Flame was blown out, terminating the XXXI Olympiad (Rio 2016) and handing over to Tokyo 2020. These Summer Games, the first in South America, will be remembered for the contrast between lights and shadows. On the one hand, the glory won by Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, the amazing cross-channel media coverages and the takeaways given by inspirational stories. On the other side, however, the virus Zika, the green pools, the scandal of the US swimmers headed by Lochte, the echoes of doping and corruption and, of course, the #Rule40 revealed what mistakes should not be made in the digital era and what problems should not come up during such kind of event, but also what best practices should be followed.
As we already explained in the preview article, the relaxation of #Rule40 by the IOC, although it meant to take a step forward in the rights of those non-sponsor brands that have a contract with an Olympic athlete, forced those brands to come up with inventive concepts and stimulate their creativity to make profit and stand out without mentioning, even vaguely, any intellectual property content related to the Games. With the rules laid down, did anyone fulfil these expectations? Were there brands which deserve the gold medal in smartness? Let’s see!
Non-Sponsors vs Global Official Sponsors
Although brands like Under Armour, Virgin, Gatorade or Apple were not allowed to use “Olympics”, the rings logo, the Olympic motto and words like “medal”, “gold” or “Rio” in ads or social media, they run campaigns featuring their brands ambassadors or not, using different tones, formats, and channels in order to take a small piece of the cake.
I could talk about the “The Human Family” video ad made by Apple under its ongoing campaign “Shot on iPhone” because it has been created only by user-generated-content material and the topic behind the video, diversity, was linked smoothly with the Olympic spirit. However, the non-sponsor winner is undoubtedly Under Armour. The American apparel, that made a big investment this Olympic year to showcase their brand internationally, capitalised not only its awarded ad starred by the US Olympian Michael Phelps and its global campaign “Rule Yourself” but also its clothing sponsor program with which it provided more than 250 athletes with uniforms and other apparel, like the succeeding US gymnastic team, among others.
UA used also social media to congratulate Michael Phelps for his historic performance or to brilliantly promote other athletes like Natasha Hastings or Kelley Ohara. All in all, this leads us to think that good marketing is possible even when brands are subjected to tight restrictions.
On the other hand, official sponsors delighted Olympic fans with really engaging and moving proposals that have been working very well offline and online. The Visa ad perfectly mixed the Olympic topic (through Visa Team athletes) with the digital innovations they have been implementing to adapt the payments world to the smartphone era. Procter and Gamble appealed to emotions with their ad based on the importance of a mom in the success of every athlete. And finally, the ad released by Samsung, called “The Anthem”, to promote the Galaxy S7 edge has been one of the most viewed on Youtube. The South Korean company celebrated a world without barriers and invited people to share their experiences under the hashtag #DoWhatYouCant.
Changing the channel and the code, I have to say that the digital conversations generated around the Olympic Games were even more fascinating and animated than ever. Twitter was especially brilliant with its hundreds of emojis collection for the Olympic Games, what added more colour and visual power to the generated content.
Social Media, especially Facebook, was one of the channels used by the DOSB (@Olympiamannschaft) to inform fans about the performances of the German athletes. Their posts, videos (some of them in 360°, some streaming) and photos generated a lot of sense of engagement. Not only for the coverage itself, that was fantastic, but also for the wise storytelling used to illustrate the content: very short and descriptive sentences, sometimes with wordplay and always including the hashtag created for the occasion: #WirfuerD.
Snapchat also participated in the Olympic party by launching special sports-themed lenses, geofilters, stickers and Bitmoji to mark the games. Moreover, to follow the real-time fever Snapchat included curating Live Stories and a temporary NBC Olympics channel to its Discover section in which video highlights and behind the scenes moments were broadcasted, thanks to the partnership between the TV channel and BuzzFeed.
Traditional TV channels, adopting new tech
Precisely, talking about TV, media reflected the spirit of the digital times and offered a wide range of services to be consumed from different devices and formats. The official German channels ARD & ZDF offered Olympic fans the possibility to watch until six different sport competitions in parallel.
360-degree VR videos were also available for the first time. The official Apps created for the occasion by the official channels allowed viewers to enjoy panoramic views as if they were in Rio de Janeiro.
Talking strictly in sport terms, despite of winning more gold medals than in London 2012, confirming that Olympic equestrian, Shooting and Kanuten are in good health and finalising in the 5th position in the medal count, the total amount of medals achieved by the Germans (only 42) and the less amount of finalists in comparison with previous years have raised alarm between the Olympic national institutions, who will debate about proper structures, management strategies as well as funding in the coming weeks in order to rectify the situation and reach Tokyo 2020 in better and solvent conditions.
The same can be applied to the orga of the Asiatic country, which is expected to learn from Rio and to offer a better performance at all levels. Super Mario will make its best. And the brands will surprise us again. I cannot wait!
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