Brands in the spotlight: Rio 2016 Olympics

The eagerly anticipated 2016 Rio Olympic Games have finally arrived, and are likely to dominate our screens until the end of August. Prior to the commencement of the Olympic Games, this year’s competition has already featured heavily in the media, with allegations of doping by Russian athletes causing international outrage, and reports of sewage leaking into Rio's Guanabara Bay. Another key talking point in the run up to the Olympic Games has been brand activation ahead of the competition.

The Olympic Games is one of the most, if not the most, widely watched sporting events around the world. This inevitably presents brands with the opportunity of huge exposure to the public eye on an international scale. There is a unique feeling of global excitement and unity that surrounds the Olympic Games, and brands have piggy-backed on this to create some feel-good campaigns.

Olympic Games campaigns which are built around stories about the athletes competing in the Games and taking a ‘behind the scenes’ approach to the Olympics story, resonate especially well with audiences. P&G’s ‘Thank you, Mom’ campaign stood out for this reason, as an advertising approach that is underpinned by an inspiration and motivation narrative their, rather than product placement focused.

In 2016, we have seen a real focus on CSR within brand sponsorship of the Olympics. In the wake of the refugee crisis, the International Olympic Committee announced earlier this year that there would be a new team competing against the 206 countries in the games. The refugee athletes will compete in swimming, judo and athletics, under the banner of the Olympic flag. A number of the athletes from this team will be members of Team Visa, forming the company’s largest and most diverse team.

The initiative which has athletes representing a range of 26 sports provides athletes with the tools, resources and support they need to reach their highest potential, regardless of origin or background.

And as Snapchat releases a selfie lens which allows everyone to feel as though they’re a part of Team GB, it reminds us that these sponsors can be a part of the Olympic Games in more ways than ever before. Even though the distance and time constraints means that Brits are much further from the action than they were four years ago at London 2012, their content and ambassadors can continue to engage and entertain fans across the globe. With Facebook Live offering us a peek into the activity taking place in the Olympic park, marketing efforts aren’t just constrained to the event’s attendees and enthusiasts, they’re now open to more audiences than ever, whatever their level of interest. 

Amelia Worley

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search