The Olympics are over and I am glad to be back in Australia as the UK faces up to the inevitable hangover. The games will long be remembered for a series of outstanding sporting achievements, but also as the time people from London were actually friendly and openly embraced total strangers. From a brand point of view, I am sure that the diaries of all the people involved will be packed with debrief sessions where they will evaluate their campaigns in detail. They will discuss what worked well, what they could have done differently, what their competitors did and what will they do for Rio in 2016.
The brand activity at the games surpassed anything ever seen at previous Olympics and it was impossible to travel anywhere within London without seeing an athlete’s face proudly endorsing a sponsor. They don’t hand out medals to sponsors, and it will be a while before we know who came out on top based on sales or improved brand sentiment. Based on my time there, however, I would award the following to some of the most high profile global Olympic Partners:
Adidas – Gold
Adidas got it right on a number of levels and of all the brands involved, their campaign worked most successfully across numerous touch points. It proudly backed the newly created ‘Team GB’ and that paid off massively. Apart from one or two outstanding athletes from other countries, these were the stars of the games and dominated the media agenda in the UK. Adidas was the one brand who truly utilised PR throughout the games. Whether it was David Beckham surprising fans in the Westfield photo booth, another one of its gold medalists being interviewed in the Adidas media centre, or celebrities attending one of its celebration parties they were in the papers every day. It has also been the first brand to create a great piece of post-games content with its ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ film, which is already nearly at a million views in 24 hours.
Coca Cola – Gold
Coke took a different approach to most of the other sponsors and this paid off. It went down the music route and rather than sign an athlete to endorse its product, it worked with Mark Ronson. It brought some colour and fun to proceedings and its activation area inside Olympic Park (Beatbox) was definitely the most engaging. The creation of the ‘Coke’ bridge was also a masterstroke. While other brands were busy creating giant building wraps, Coke identified an opportunity to brighten up an existing piece of infrastructure that everyone would pass on their way from the station to the venue.
Omega – Silver
Omega had the privilege of being the only brand visible in any of the Olympic venues due to its position as the official timekeeper. Being a luxury brand, its Olympic program had to be aspirational, and with the creation of Omega House, this was achieved. Apart from the 100m men’s final, this was the hottest ticket in town. Omega took over a huge house in Central London and invited all the visiting VIP’s to attend for free food and drink in lavish surroundings. Although only a few people were able to attend, by releasing pictures of the celebrities including Nicole Kidman and Buzz Aldrin to the media, everyone knew about it and wanted to be there.
McDonalds – Silver
While there was some negative sentiment around its sponsorship and the fast food debate, it went about its business quietly and created a solid campaign that celebrated all the different emotions supporters went through while watching the events. On a side note, it would be hard for them to officially get an athlete to endorse their products after all. However, its campaign was brought to life with a ‘takeover’ over of Stratford Station. It also enjoyed a massive amount of social media buzz from the athletes themselves due to a presence in the Olympic Village, offering free food to all the competitors which they enjoyed once they’d finished competing.
Visa – Bronze
Visa had a huge outdoor buy in and around the Stratford Westfield featuring Usain Bolt,and although he was undoubtedly the star of the show, its creative was formulaic and dull. It would have gained good stand out when it wasn’t competing with all the other Olympic content, but in these surroundings it was lost. Also, Visa has to be marked down for the following sign which was present all Olympic venues:
Onwards to Rio.
Head of Events
M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment