Brands Go for Olympic Gold

If you followed the Olympics this summer—or any year—it’s clear that brands have a high stake in the Games and the stories told throughout. Simply Measured identified “7 Brands Winning Social Media” during the Rio Olympics. Which brand campaigns or individual stories stood out to you in the Summer Games? What captured your attention, and why? Did you notice any trends or themes among this year’s top campaigns?


17 thoughts on “Brands Go for Olympic Gold

  1. I didn’t follow the Olympics as much as I should have. I just walked by it every time it was on, not properly paying close attention to it. Sure I saw the ads for Coca-Cola every now and then, but to be honest, I wasn’t fully invested in it until much later. Like closing ceremony later.

    And the only reason? Because Mario was there along with Hello Kitty, Doraemon and a few anime characters.

    It was then I remembered the fact that not only are the next Summer Olympics at Tokyo, but Mario is an international icon. Not only that, but there’s a sports game where Mario crosses over with Sonic the Hedgehog to do Olympic sports.

    It just made me interested for that PR stunt.


    1. I thought of you and our conversations from last semester when they used Mario to introduce the next Olympic Games. I also thought it was a fun way to use an widely recognized character to reach a broad audience and draw attention to the Summer 2018 Games.


  2. Oiselle was a brand I had never even noticed or remembered, but I watched a good portion of the Olympics. I find it slightly annoying when I’m watching a competition, yet the brand of the competitors clothes have to be blurred or blacked out because they are not an official sponsor of the games.

    Although the ads seemed to share the theme in advertising your best self, I saw a lot of individualism at the games. We used to focus more on our own country’s entire team, but now we are focusing on the best competitors in each sport, regardless of the country. I felt as if coverage four years ago was more geared towards our home team USA, rather than individuals from other countries that have beat out the U.S..


    1. Great perspective. It’s interesting that the ads highlighted individuals, yet in the Olympic coverage, team was an important aspect even during individual competitions. As one example, USA swim team felt more united than in past years, from my perspective.


  3. I agree with Kaley. I watched a lot of the Olympics this year, and I saw that individual people became the focus, rather than the whole team.

    One brand I remember seeing a lot of was not only on TV, but also on social media, is Dove. Dove has had a great deal of campaigns that have a deeper message, and this one is no exception. This campaign was called #MyBeautyMySay. I remember this campaign because it was purposeful. The stories behind this campaign mattered and it is no surprise it stuck with me, even after the games ended.


  4. I have never been one to follow the Olympics. This summer, I occasionally saw a few events when work was slow. My job played the Olympics continuously throughout the day. The two stories I remember were ones that were spread throughout the news/social media: Ryan Lochte and Gabby Douglas.

    Ryan Lochte’s scandal became a worldwide “concern” of sorts after he lied about being robbed at gunpoint while in Rio. Due to his lies, he lost all four of his major sponsors – which was detrimental to his career because he lost the ways he earned money. Not only were his money ties broken, but people now associate his name and image with the robbery scandal. Essentially, Ryan Lochte lost his “brand” image of being a young, attractive, and amazing Olympic swimmer. He did, however, receive an offer from Dancing with the Stars to compete this season – so I am sure this is a marketing scheme to re-establish his good image.

    Gabby Douglas made headlines for not pledging allegiance to the flag. The controversy was that some people argued her action was disrespectful to those who serve our country every day. While the other four gymnasts pledged, Gabby had her hands down by her side. This action came after reports of Gabby having an attitude towards her teammates. While Gabby’s reputation has not been destroyed because of this, many are questioning her attitude.


    1. Both these stories generated significant attention and it’s unfortunate when athletes’ actions take away from their competition, particularly when they’ve done well. I just saw a news alert about anti-Lochte protestors interrupting the Dancing with the Stars premiere tonight. It will be interesting to see how he works to rebuild his image following the Rio incident.


  5. Unfortunately I was not able to follow the Olympics as much as I had wanted to but after looking at the article I did see some pretty prevalent trends. If it wasn’t already obvious, most of the brands that are successful during any olympic games are wellbeing and fitness brands. Nike is always a brand that sticks out to be. It may be my bias opinion since I am a fan of their products, but I do believe they always do a good job of highlighting athletes in completeness. With Simon Biles as an example, I appreciated that they showed her story, how she got to where she is, and all that she puts into her training.

    One of the trends that I noticed in all of the top campaigns, was the emphasis on healthy living, and all of the hard work and dedication that goes into being an olympic athlete. I think the cool thing about the olympics compared the other pro athlete campaigns, is that sometimes the athletes are less widely known, from all different backgrounds, and it is truly fascinating to find out their stories.


    1. I agree. One of my favorite parts of the Olympics is getting to know the athletes’ stories. Brands play a large part in that by helping capture and tell part of the story for those they sponsor.


  6. I love watch Olympics!!!!!!!!!!! But the country I support is different from you guys. I cheer for China…. Anyway, I remember that PR professor, Ismael Lopez said that Olympics is not just about sport’s competitions, but also time to make money. A lot of company can use Olympics to make so much money, like Nike, Google and Dove.

    They sponsored a lot of team in order to advertise their products. Last month, I went to Nike story, their Olympics shirts are really popular. And every workers were wearing them during Olympics.

    I think the Google did the good job to make the video. Fruit Games, which show animated fruits participating in Olympic events. I think it is really cute and fun to watch it. As the biggest and best search engine in the world. It successfully advertises Olympics and itself. People use Google to know the news of Olympics


  7. I loved watching the basketball games in the Olympics this year. I especially loved how half of the Golden State Warriors were on the team. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the new edition of Kevin Durant put on a show for our country. Interestingly, I did follow up on a few stories regarding Kevin Durant in the Olympic games, and it was that his new teammates for the upcoming 2016-’17 season were excited to have him come in.

    However, in more broad news about the Olympics, I did not follow too much because I don’t really want other sports. One thing I found very interesting was the controversy with Michael Phelps and him smoking weed. I don’t know about any other country, but in 2012 the United States made a huge deal about his drug test coming back positive for marijuana. Now, in the 2016 Olympics, I read a random article through Facebook saying it was okay for all Olympics athletes to smoke weed because studies showed that it can relax an athlete the night before having to perform. It captured my attention because this is now such a hot button issue in America, to legalize it or not.

    One of the brands that stood out to me from the original post above was that the Olympics was done in a South African region. I do not know much about other countries more than having a small conversation about them, however I heard through another story that were were a lot of problems outside of the arena for the swimmers. Professional swimmers were saying that there were muggings outside while they were getting on the bus back to their hotels. This grabbed my attention and quickly I started to look up other places in Rio where there are notorious muggings. I didn’t find too much, but it looked like a pretty large city where people would wait for celebrities and try to mug them.


  8. Safety in Olympic cities is frequently a concern and many recent Olympic cities have had to create communication strategies specific to issues of safety. Rio was one of these that had to address the concern before, during, and following the Games. The Sochi Games dealt with this as well.


  9. I’ve never been one to follow the Olympics. In fact, I was so unaware of what was going on that when someone at my job said I resembled Simone Manuel, I said, “Who?” Talk about embarrassing. I stood there listening to them tell me how big of a deal she was. Later that night, I did my own research to find out that she was in fact someone I should know, considering her historical impact.

    I was however, familiar with the fact that trends and campaigns were showcased throughout the Olympics. Of the ones listed in the attached article, I knew I would run across Nike and Under Armour. Those are the pretty predicable ones. The one that I found exceptionally unique, but still relevant to the Olympics was the Chobani campaign. I’m all about healthy living, both physically and mentally. To see that being advertised and marked as something important, is useful for all people (whether an athlete or not). It allowed for all people to feel apart of something. It didn’t eliminate people who weren’t athletes. I especially enjoyed their tagline, “You can only be great if you’re full of goodness.” That’s just a nice reminder as we journey throughout our day to day lives. I think the messages of Chobani are ones that people will remember even after the Olympic talk begins to die down.

    In the words of Maya Angelou, we remember how people make us feel more often than we do their words. Chobani’s messages appeal to an audience’s emotions, which is rememberable and not to mention, a good campaign technique.


  10. Good blog! What I notice a lot during the Olympics are Coca Cola ads. They seem to be everywhere. And it confuses me because isn’t Coca Cola not the most healthy drink to consume? It really goes to show you who has the money and who has the power in the Olympics. Another story was Ryan Lochte. Once the truth came out he lost a majority of his sponsorships. It goes to show how companies don’t want questionable people representing them; and Olympic athletes solely “live” on their sponsorships for income. Companies and their ads really to run the Olympics.


  11. I somewhat followed this year’s Olympic Games, but I mainly focused on swimming and women’s gymnastics.

    What caught my attention most about the Rio Games were the individuals who were put in the media’s spotlight for overcoming adversity and achieving incredible success against all odds. I certainly don’t believe this type of campaign caught my attention because of its uniqueness, in fact it seems to be the go-to type of inspirational ad that companies generate for each of the Olympic Games. However, I was struck by the somewhat transparent position that the ads took when describing the hard work and dedication it takes to be an Olympic athlete. The ads did not only show the moments of athletes’ glory but actually worked to highlight the times when athletes were “in the dark”, as the Under Armour campaign slogan states. Michael Phelp’s commercial for Under Armour shows him struggling through practices and exercising outside of competition, and never shows him as the glorified Olympic athlete that he usually appears as. The same theme is seen in Simone Biles’ Nike commercial, where she is only seen working hard in practice but not decimating the stage at a competition, as she is wont to do. This particular commercial attribute was seen most clearly in one of the USA’s men’s track and field relay teams, where the story was specifically aimed at all the times the team had failed to reach their goals. All of these commercials used these moments of “darkness”, weakness, or struggle as a means to muster an emotional response from the audience and as a way to get viewers rooting for the underdog. It totally worked.


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