Step right up! Have you seen the recently unveiled logo for the 2012 London Olympic Games? If not, here it is.
“Tune in at this time” is one of the reasons the top-down, big-media model is struggling. By delaying the airing of the Olympics opening ceremonies, NBC limited its thinking to this old broadcast model and squandered the opportunity to leverage its online assets.
With 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, we see a China that is a powerhouse of contemporary, iconic architecture. We see a China that is global host, not a walled world. We see an entire culture struggling with freedom, technology and the environment. From this view, China is a massive case study -- a window into -- the global future.
Marketers seem a bit surprised today that Volvo is evolving its core brand positioning to evoke some sexiness alongside its legendary safety. Anyone who has a confused reaction to this is way behind the times. The tired notion of brand as repeated “one-note” song has hobbled some of the biggest companies in the world. (Wal-Mart’s challenges might be tied back to its singular focus on “low prices,” which led consumers to see the entire company – rich as it is – as “cheap.” And everything Ford is doing is “bold,” right? Except sales.)
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Coke, AT&T and GM Are on Board, but USOC Sponsors A-B InBev, Hilton Holding Out
Lots of sporting events are used to promote brands. The Olympics, perhaps, more than most. So it's no surprise that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is hard at work to ensure that brands that are not “official sponsors” of the games do not gain financially
With the network releasing footage of Olympic events hours after they’ve already happened, major news networks are learning they can’t pretend that social media doesn’t exist.
With such high stakes, brands should assess their fit with the Olympic Games before jumping into the arena. Not all players are a perfect match. Brands that are compatible with the Games, in both product offering and Ideal, can expect greater impact on their equity.
With London 2012 come three, totally minimal olympic sites that leverage rapid development to celebrate this fleeting worldwide event. They’re the collective antithesis to nbcolympics.com, covering granular information with an unfettered layout devoid of audio clips, listicles and even ads. They’re also a sign of current web technologies.
Nobody can deny that the ledgers at NBC are looking mighty nice as of now, yet while the TV performance data has been easily accessible and widely disseminated since Monday, one crucial element appears to be missing: just how are NBC's digital audience numbers are shaping up?
As part of its sponsorship of Team USA for the Olympic Games, AT&T is launching a campaign to bring several of these stories to life via short films and its social networking channels. The effort, called “My Journey,” will feature 30-second teasers during the primetime broadcasts of the London Olympic Games, but the extended stories will live online.
This year, more than 4.9 billion people (including 211 million Americans) are expected to tune into the games. The IOC is anticipating a record-breaking “Socialympics,” and with all the feel-good stories, athlete spokespeople and corporate sponsorships surrounding the games, it’s hard to imagine it any other way.
On the heels of a deal with Facebook to promote Olympic conversations on NBC’s Facebook page, the broadcast network today is taking one more step to improve its social standing during the big sports event. It is linking up with Storify, the social-media “story creator”, to put streams of real-time Olympic content, curated by NBC journalists, across Today.com as well as NBC’s 10 owned TV station websites.
When a brand becomes a bully, it loses something vital. So much money, so many egos and so many governments are involved in the Olympics now (and they have so little competition) that it has become a sterling example of what happens when you let greed and lawyers run amok over common sense and generosity.
You'll see Flyknit on the feet of olympic marathoners this year. This limited-edition collection shows the real-world application of Nike's newfangled technology. The limited-edition HTM is intended for the rest of us: plain old sneaker geeks.
NBC Universal's broadcasts of the Olympics from London this summer will be filled with the usual athletic contests: synchronized swimming, basketball and canoe sprinting, among others. Behind the scenes, however, NBC will engage in a different sort of game: tablet counting. Mindful that audiences are no longer relying solely on TV to get all their video content, NBC Universal will use the Olympics to set up a system that purports to count viewers across all the different ways they now watch their shows.
Puma can’t yet legally discuss its Olympics marketing strategy, according to Remi Carlioz, the company’s head of digital marketing. But to get an idea of how Puma will promote its star athlete and three-time Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt, one need only turn to the Middle East. In mid-January, Puma sent 10 bloggers to Abu Dhabi to cover the company’s sponsored boat, Mar Mostro, as it competed in the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Puma has recruited bloggers to talk about the brand before, but this event marked the first time it tested Tumblr. (The bloggers were also encouraged to post to Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #marmostro.)
The head of Iran's national Olympic committee has complained to the International Olympic Committee that the jagged logo for the London 2012 Olympic games is racist because it spells the word "Zion." (Maybe if you twist your head on the 'N' — but even then it would read "Loin," no?)
The seemingly continuous commercials during the coverage of the Winter Games on the networks of NBC Universal gave a new meaning to the term “snow job.” It was as if every spot showed snow, or ice, or both, in which skiers, skaters and snowboarders cavorted. That made it difficult for ad-weary, ad-bleary viewers to distinguish the commercials from the actual coverage of the Vancouver Olympics. Perhaps that was the sponsors’ fiendish intent: to perpetrate the ultimate blurring of the line between advertising and content.
Since the Vancouver Winter Games began on Feb. 12, the networks of NBC Universal have presented hundreds of hours of coverage — and thousands of commercials. Here is a look at some of the highlights, sidelights and lowlights of the spots so far.
The New York Times brings this story of an economist who has been predicting - disconcertingly accurately - the medals tally for the last few Olympics. Daniel Johnson - the economist in question - is currently in the news for his predictions for the current Winter Olympics. The strange thing about Daniel's predictions is not that they have a record of 94% accuracy with actual medal counts. It is his methology. Rather than basing his predictions on individual athletes, the events or even any knowledge of sport, he bases them on something far more removed.
BMW has just launched what the Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based company says is its biggest brand campaign to date, and maybe the first that puts as much focus on the drivers and their pleasure in driving as the cars themselves. It's part of a big-media strategy the company is doing to raise its profile worldwide with a more emotional, optimistic voice. Jack Pitney, VP of marketing for BMW, takes Marketing Daily for a drive.
Let us put aside for a moment the rah-rah, "Go Team USA" focus of the NBC coverage that often bugs viewers who would like a more global view of the Olympics. Let us also set aside sport-specific beefs, like the way Scott Hamilton's groaning has gotten completely out of hand when he's calling figure skating, or the way the curling announcers make it sound like only a three-year-old wouldn't know precisely how to win every single game with ease, because they certainly could. The mere structure of the NBC coverage has left a great deal to be desired this time around, and it came to a head last night when they shuffled the much-anticipated USA-Canada hockey game off to MSNBC, in part to use NBC as a showcase for probably the least anticipated of the figure skating events: ice dancing.
Taking a page from its 2008 playbook, Visa is updating its "Go World" campaign with ready-made pieces to congratulate the company's sponsored athletes when they win a medal. "We know through research that the way consumers connect to the games is through the athletes and their stories," Jennifer Bazante, head of global brand marketing for Visa, tells Marketing Daily. "It helps extend the window of the breakthrough moment for the athlete."
NBC Universal’s television coverage of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver this month is exhaustive, as viewers have come to expect. But its Web coverage, at least when compared with the Summer Games in Beijing 18 months ago, is limited. NBC’s Web site is live-streaming fewer sports than it did in Beijing, marking a step backward in online access to marquee events. The company is making no secret that it would prefer for viewers to watch the Olympics on television, especially in prime time, even though a growing number of people are accustomed to watching TV on the Internet.
Last night I was watching the Winter Olympics coverage and was reminded of the brilliant job Red Bull does in building its brand in a modern way across many different communities. To promote the Men’s half pipe competition which airs tonight (7:30pm CT,) NBC showed a segment on Shaun White and his “secret” halfpipe. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, Red Bull custom built a half pipe for White at a secret location in the middle of nowhere. They fly him out to the location via helicopter whenever he wants to practice. This allows him to invent new tricks away from the prying eyes of the press and his competitors. Both the pristine condition of the halfpipe and its secret location have allowed White to pioneer new tricks that he will debut tonight for the first time in Olympic competition.
Sports marketing has been growing at Procter & Gamble Co. for years, and particularly since it acquired Gillette five years ago. P&G's biggest sports effort to date comes with the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where 18 brands are combining with the corporate brand in an effort that also includes P&G's first corporate TV ad in the U.S. It's the biggest corporate-marketing event ever, though it builds on more than a decade of increasing multibrand marketing efforts that include companywide coupon circulars and websites and retail promotions. An extensive digital, print, consumer-promotion and in-store program rounds out the campaign.
NBC calls it "the world's biggest focus group." With an estimated 185 million unique viewers over a 17-day period, the Olympic Games provide a special audience microcosm, and one that NBC believes will be particularly useful for measuring new-media consumption habits and trends. NBC touts all the different platforms it is bringing to bear for the Games, which began Friday in Vancouver. Viewers can watch on the network, NBC Universal's many cable channels and NBCOlympics.com. They can download clips to their iPhones and receive mobile updates on a favorite skier or figure skater.
Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods company behind products such as Tide and Pampers, hopes the Olympics will help it score with penny-pinching shoppers. The Cincinnati company rolled out a $10-million ad campaign Monday, integrating corporate and brand messaging, to win over consumers watching the 2010 Winter Games. The goal? To convince shoppers to buy its premium products. TV and Web ads, themed "Thanks, Mom," announce P&G's efforts to subsidize travel costs for every mother of a Team USA athlete.
Nations are brands – with recognized attributes and personalities. The history of national behavior colors perception of these brands – often turning them into crude caricatures. The North Koreans are not known for their playfulness nor Italy for its martial arts. O Canada – Is yours a strong brand among nations – with a distinctive and compelling personality? Does the name "Ca-na-da" call to mind vivid, positive images?
The Super Bowl is all over but the shouting--about the advertising, that is--and the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver are about to begin. Marketing critics, reboot your engines. And when you do, here's something to think about: As many of us saw during the Super Bowl, branding that's incrementally innovative won't move the meter, just as tried and true efforts executed without flair will fall flat.
General Electric, for one, still believes in advertising. As the Olympics begin, the company is introducing its biggest campaign ever aimed at consumers. Called Healthymagination, it publicizes G.E.’s role in the world of doctors and hospitals. In the United States alone, G.E. expects to spend more than $80 million this year on the campaign. Its role in health care is technical: G.E. makes and sells medical devices, like machines that measure bone density and perform M.R.I. scans. But the advertising focuses on the personal.
Procter & Gamble is feeling generous at this year's Olympic Winter Games. The packaged goods maker is sending Team USA's mothers to Vancouver to watch their children compete, as part of a program called "Thanks, Mom." The program, announced today (Thursday), will defray the cost of travel and accommodations, allowing moms to support the athletes in person during the Games. P&G is also running a campaign, which celebrates the special people in the lives of Team USA's members. (Since forming an alliance with the U.S. Olympic Committee last summer, the company has tapped several Team USA athletes to star in its Olympics-focused marketing. Among the athletes are snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, speed skater Apolo Ohno, and skier Lindsey Vonn.)
McDonald's is tapping Olympic athletes to help lend credibility to a message it has been pushing for the past four years: that it uses only quality ingredients. The company today hosted a media event featuring Olympians Katarina Witt, Shawn Johnson, Picabo Street and Cassie Campbell to preview its smoothies, set to launch this summer, for assembled media in Vancouver. It's part of a push launched in 2006 to infuse its marketing in every country with messages about food quality.
Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday was part of the frenetic stretch, which continues this weekend with the Winter Games and other sports programming, like the National Basketball Association All-Star Game and the Daytona 500. The TV marketing blitz, which began with the coverage of the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 17, is to run through the Academy Awards on March 7 and conclude with the finale of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament on April 5. All those events have something in common other than high prices for commercial time: They are all broadcast live, part of a trend known as big-event television, which prizes programs that can attract large, involved audiences at a time when consumers have generally been atomized into tiny niche markets.
American skier Lindsey Vonn, one of the potential stars of the 2010 Winter Olympics, told her nearly 35,000 Twitter followers that she would not be posting to the social network until after the Games were over, perhaps based on a faulty understanding of the International Olympic Committee’s rules on blogging and social networking
NBC has embraced a novel twist on the user-generated content phenomenon: it plans to broadcast more than a month's worth of athlete generated content, or "AGC," via Vancouver Olympics programming over its cable stations and web sites. I can't help but think such a decision comes from the same ideology that gave us a Jay Leno comedy show in primetime: unscripted programming is cheaper to produce than scripted entertainment, while ad rates are determined by viewing eyeballs, so the profit margin is potentially higher for shows that are even marginally based on reality. And since NBC paid $2 billion just for the rights to broadcast the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, it has every incentive to repurpose that AGC wherever and whenever it can.
When the Vancouver Olympic Games kick off on Feb. 12, visitors will find café furniture made from pine-beetle-salvaged wood, drink out of bottles made from 30% plant-based materials, and their beverages will be delivered via hybrid vehicles and electric cart. All are elements of Coca-Cola's first zero-waste, carbon-neutral sponsorship. The effort has been years in the making, beginning with a relatively simple recycling effort for the Athens Olympic Games in 2000. Since then the company has layered in additional elements, like environmentally friendly coolers and shirts made out of plastic bottles.
NBC Universal likely won't turn a profit off its broadcast of the Winter Olympics this year, but it hopes the research it performs on the event's massive audience might generate additional ad revenue in the days and months after the last gold-medal hockey skate has left the ice. The media giant, in the midst of parent General Electric's transfer of majority ownership to Comcast Corp., intends to ratchet up its examination of Olympics viewers' media-consumption habits, building off a big test it performed during the 2008 Summer Olympics broadcast from Beijing.
There's a war going on in the business of sports. On one side are the sponsors that pay millions of dollars for their brands to bask in the publicity surrounding certain teams and events. On the other: a growing number of companies that crowd into the spotlight without paying—sometimes by bending, or breaking, the rules.
The Winter Olympics start in 23 days, and NBC expects to lose $200 million on them. But it didn’t have to be that way — even with an economy that has shredded NBC’s advertising assumptions. In June 2003, executives from NBC, ESPN and Fox gathered at the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to bid for the television rights to the 2010 Winter Games, which had not yet been awarded to Vancouver, and the 2012 Summer Games, which would be given to London.
After years of bidding up fees for the rights to televise sports, U.S. media companies are putting on the brakes. Richard Carrion, a member of the International Olympic Committee's executive board, said the organization is seriously considering delaying until next year the bidding for the U.S. media rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics because of the ongoing struggles of broadcasters hurt by a rocky advertising market.
The 2010 Winter Olympics offers world-class athletes an intense and competitive environment to showcase their talents. Yet no other participant is preparing more intensely for the games than McDonald’s. That’s right, McDonald’s. The fast food juggernaut has devised a marketing strategy that is as specific and yet as varied as the many competitions being offered at the games next February. McDonald’s is embracing the Winter Olympics in every aspect, and will fill everywhere from host city Vancouver to social networking phenomenon Twitter with its messaging.
For years, competitors have tried to challenge ESPN. Their efforts failed or never advanced beyond big talk. Comcast’s impending acquisition of NBC Universal will certainly set off an effort to turn Versus into a viable alternative, if not a full-fledged competitor, to ESPN. Under Comcast’s ownership, Versus has transformed from the Outdoor Life Network to OLN, then, in 2006, into its current incarnation.
Visa took its “Go World” campaign, celebrating the Olympic spirit, global this week, with spots running in the U.S., Canada, China, Russia and Japan. [Agencies TBWA\Chiat\Day, AKQA and GMR collaborated on the effort.] It's a continuation of last year’s U.S.-only campaign—which promoted the 2008 Beijing Olympics—but this time around, Visa is taking a more ambitious approach. The credit card company is using a bigger line-up of Olympic athletes and hopefuls, digital and mobile media to get the word out, and it’s also teamed up with various merchants and business partners to promote the Visa brand. The company also had a successful fourth quarter, with profits up $514 million, compared to $356 million for the same period last year. Kevin Burke, who oversees Visa's global consumer marketing, said he hopes the campaign will increase the usage of Visa cards even more. Burke spoke with Brandweek about why Visa took its campaign global, and what outcome the company is expecting.
Looking ahead to 2010, marketers will be facing Olympic hurdles that will require steadfast agility just to stay in the game, much less to hit the finish line ahead of the competition. Here are 10 ideas, wrapped in Olympic glory that should deliver the gold.
Visa is going for the gold. The credit card company today announced it has renewed its exclusive sponsorship as the only credit card accepted at the Olympic Games. The new contract will begin after the 2010 Games and extend over the next eight years, ending with the conclusion of the Olympic Summer Games in 2020. Under the contract, Visa will sponsor the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, and the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games. It will retain exclusive category rights to the promotional use of Olympic branding imagery for all 205 national committees and teams.
I happen to think that the folks who were in charge of the Olympics branding strategy in Rio de Janeiro did a phenomenal job of differentiating Rio's promise from the other cities in contention, and then clearly establishing its relevance to the IOC. In other words, the "Brand Rio" team followed a couple of the basic rules of smart brand management and came out the category leader as a result. There is almost no brand category that isn't awash in choices. Whether cars or cosmetics, beverages or baby carriages, there is a lot of stuff out there and most of it is pretty similar. The competition for consumer attention is fierce and it can't be won on table stakes. The only way a decent brand can ever hope of becoming the chosen brand is to make a promise that's completely different from any its competitors' and ensure that this difference is meaningful to its target audience. In an ever-expanding global marketplace, this is getting harder and harder to do.
To help address all that before the 2010 Olympics, the committee has been sponsoring a global campaign carrying the theme “The Best of Us.” The campaign, by Cole & Weber United in Seattle, part of the United unit of WPP, enters a second phase on Wednesday with the introduction of what the committee is calling The Best of Us Challenge. Young people ages 12 to 19 will be invited to create video clips in an effort known as consumer-generated or user-generated content. The clips are to show them responding to challenges from athletes like the beach volleyball player Natalie Cook, the pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, the snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, the gymnast Shawn Johnson, the tennis player Rafael Nadal, the swimmer Michael Phelps and the skier Lindsey Vonn.
You may think you've never heard of Li Ning. But assuming you were one of the 4 billion or so people watching the opening ceremony of last year's Beijing Olympics, you've seen him. Remember the guy who lit the Olympic flame? The one who, as if by some superhuman power, levitated more than 100 feet and ran that mesmerizing aerial lap around the Bird's Nest stadium before setting the Olympic cauldron ablaze? That was Li Ning. And if he has his way, you won't be forgetting him again.
Chicago is competing with Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro for the honor of hosting the (summer) Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2016. I hope we lose the bid.
One bong hit seen around the world, and Olympian Michael Phelps is watching at least one contract go up in smoke. Kellogg will let the swimmer's contract expire at the end of the month.
Meet sports marketing's new best friend: President-elect Barack Obama.
What happened to the “Beijing bounce”? It was the surge in advertising spending that the Summer Olympics were supposed to provide.