A chance to align a brand with the hope, values and global exposure of the Olympics is a rare and extraordinarily finite opportunity. But, when there is upheaval surrounding every aspect of the games, does it adversely affect advertising efforts? Could brand alignment with something – once – so powerful, so poetic and so highly regarded actually hurt a brand?
A few months ago, the entire advertising industry was awed and shocked by the record-haul sales NBC was posting: $1 Billion in marked ad sales, four months faster than ad sales marked for the London Olympics. And the London games were one of the highest-grossing and most watched U.S. TV events in history.
(Read that again.)
The London games were one of the highest-grossing and most watched U.S. TV events in history.
In history. Topping Super Bowl XLIX and the forever idolized M*A*S*H* Finale circa 1983.
So let’s put that in perspective…
Months ago, Rio was set to out perform it all.
But with less than half the Americans originally expected to attend now backing out, things are not exactly going as planned.
Just two days ago, Lebron James – one of our country’s most marketable athletes – opted out of the Summer Olympics in favor of summer vacation. (Note: Lebron’s reasoning stands that this decision is due, mostly in part, to his recent NBA Finals Win.) Meanwhile, Coca-Cola issued several statements to the media explaining that it will continue to advertise and support its sponsored Athletes but that it strongly encourages all Athletes and Personnel to make informed, educated travel / participation decisions for themselves and their loved ones.
The politics of sport and current issues facing Rio have certainly owned the media spotlight so far, and it’s safe to say that there is a lot of fear and skepticism heading into next month, but there are also a lot of golden opportunities waiting for brands.
There will still be millions of impressions gained by sponsors and advertisers as millions of people will still tune in to witness the events. (There is speculation that viewership may even increase given the publicity and curiosity leading up to Rio.) The brands that will win will be those that embody the spirit of this particular Olympic Summer: overcoming adversity, devotion to one’s Country or cause and the ability to compete against all odds. We’ll likely see a strong shift in strategy from scripted comedy to behind-the-scenes authenticity in most spots, and expect to hear a lot more from the Athletes (and their sponsors) themselves this year.
Authenticity will reign.
There will be many takeaway lessons for brands, from Rio, and we’ll be reporting back with those as the games get underway. Stay tuned and make sure to click here for the complete broadcast schedule of Rio 2016.