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Using the Olympic Games as a Platform to Transform Your Brand

The Olympic Games generate a huge amount of excitement and passion in the cities and countries where they are hosted. They can also be used as a transformative business opportunity for IOC TOP Partners, NOC Partners and OCOG Domestic partners.

For an Olympic partnership to make a true impact, brands must address business objectives and develop captivating marketing campaigns in alignment with the Olympic Movement and in collaboration with key Olympic stakeholders.

How can this can be achieved?

Quite simply, through creating a point of difference. This requires early planning and careful articulation of an authentic marketing narrative, which together position a brand to stand out and create value through their Olympic partnership.

It is vital to view the Olympic Games not just as 17 days of sport, but as a game-changing opportunity. Through a focus on brand building, product showcasing, commercial revenue growth, brand communication and employee engagement, brands can successfully optimize their Olympic partnerships. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

  1. Brand Building: P&G

    Seeking a platform that would support a multi-brand corporate marketing campaign, P&G became a partner of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and Team USA ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, then expanded to a global TOP Partnership with the IOC through to Tokyo 2020.

    P&G’s now-famous “Thank You Mom” campaign was built on the brand purpose of improving the lives of moms and families. They paired this with the knowledge that the Olympics were the favorite sporting event among women, and that 76% of American households watch the Olympic Games on television. The opportunity allowed P&G to build and communicate their multi-brand positioning in an engaging, believable and purposeful way.

    GMR is P&G’s Agency of Record for Olympic Marketing and has supported the brand at every occurrence of the summer and winter Olympic Games since 2010.

  2. Product Showcasing: Intel

    As the newest TOP Partner, Intel aims to reimagine the future of the Olympic Games with new levels of fan interaction through leading-edge technology. The Olympic Games provide a unique platform for Intel to showcase its growing list of innovations—virtual reality, 360-degree video, artificial intelligence, drones and more—and drive greater innovation across the Olympic Games as a whole. These enhancements come at a time when the IOC is looking to elevate the Olympic offering to spectators, making the partnership a compelling case study for other high-tech brands to explore and further heighten the fan experience. 

  3. Commercial Revenue Growth: GE

    GE entered into a TOP Partnership in advance of Beijing 2008 to make an emerging market entry into China and build brand equity across Asia. The Olympic ecosystem provided the platform to engage in cross-selling opportunities to a large network that included government officials, national sport federations and business executives. GE reportedly generated USD $800 million of incremental revenue on the back of the Beijing 2008 TOP Partner investment.

    GMR has supported GE’s TOP Partnership through multi-tiered guest experience strategy, management and activation, most recently in Rio 2016.

  4. Brand Communications: Samsung

    Samsung has used the Olympic Games to cement its status as a global premium brand. At every Olympic Games since becoming a domestic partner for Seoul 1988, the brand has used the Games as platform to enhance communications, immersing itself into the Olympic conversation. For example, in Rio 2016, Samsung’s 32-person on-site newsroom published real-time, emotionally-driven brand communications, resulting in Samsung’s ranking as the third of TOP Partners most associated with Rio 2016.

  5. Employee Engagement: British Airways

    British Airways used their Tier 1 Domestic partnership with the London 2012 Olympic Games and their position as the “national flag carrier” to build employee morale. The campaign centered around a “personal pledge initiative” and a “self-improvement challenge” for all employees, including leadership. This top-down, bottom-up approach successfully increased employee pride in the British Airways brand.
It is vital to view the Olympic Games not just as 17 days of sport, but as a game-changing opportunity.

Looking Ahead

We are entering a very interesting and exciting period for Olympic marketing. Brands must learn to embrace the fact that success can be achieved through ‘story doing’ and by becoming the narrative through true partnership driven by collaboration. In 2017 alone, we witnessed:

  • McDonald’s ending their TOP relationship
  • Beyond Intel, China’s Alibaba also announcing a new TOP relationship with the IOC
  • Tokyo 2020 continuing to add to its roster of domestic partners
  • Beijing 2022 launching its own domestic partner program
  • Paris becoming the host for the 2024 Olympic Games and Los Angeles for the 2028 Olympic Games, with speculation of a potential joint marketing program

As we look ahead to the next ten years of the Olympic Games, it will be very interesting to see the brands at both a TOP and OCOG level that begin to show an interest in Olympic partnerships in markets that will be conducive to potential commercial growth.


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