The Olympics are about so much more than national teams and athletic competition. As a cultural event, the more than two-week stretch of games is surrounded by music, food and fashion. In fact, it’s all of these things that together offer so much opportunity for advertisers who want to be a part of the Olympics conversation.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues, strategies and trends driving ads around the Rio 2016 Olympics—which has reportedly called for NBC’s largest marketing campaign ever.
Olympic Promotions Rules and Regs
Perhaps the biggest news for advertisers this Olympics was around Rule 40, which used to prohibit athletes from promoting sponsors that weren’t Olympic-official, was relaxed in 2015. Now, such campaigns may run during the games, as long as they don’t suggest any commercial connection to the Olympics.
This is a great opportunity for athletes and their personal sponsors. However, some are asking how this will impact official sponsors. The changes to Rule 40 mean lots of athletes will be in lots of commercials, and it’s going to be harder to stand out.
Along with this comes a list of things non-sponsors can’t say on social media. The International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee are concerned with protecting their intellectual property, which includes things like “Olympian” and “Go for the Gold,” as well as trademarks in hashtags (#Rio2016). Non-sponsors are also not to share or repost anything from the official Olympic account.
Olympics, Digital and Devices
Ad spend this time around saw a huge jump. In an Advertising Age article , Seth Winter—the NBC Sports Group’s executive VP of advertising sales—reported digital sales are up 33 percent from the London games in 2012.
This year’s games have also been called the “Smartphone Olympics.” In its discussion of the RadiumOne report, Marketing Week shares some statistics on device use, or “second-screening” during the Olympics:
Second-screening poses a huge opportunity for brands too, according to the survey, because although 76% of viewers will watch the Olympics on TV, 64% will engage in other activities at the same time. Over half (59%) will use a smartphone and 47% will use a tablet. While watching events unfold, 20% will chat with others about what is happening via online platforms, 19% will search for extra information online and 16% will post a comment on social networks.
To keep pace with this viewer behavior, advertisers can enact real-time advertising as one strategy.
What People Want to See
With more room for non-Olympic sponsors and a significant uptick in device use and digital ads, things feel different this time around. In addition to all of this, and sometimes because of it, we have insight into what viewers want to see in advertising.
Authenticity and Trends
The internet has changed what people are accustomed to in advertising. Marketing to younger generations has an air of authenticity that was perhaps lacking in television commercials from earlier eras.
For ads during the Olympics, this can mean touching on emotions relating to Olympic values like teamwork, excellence and dedication.
Another way younger viewers might feel closer to the games is through fashion. Athletic wear has moved from strictly functional clothing you wouldn’t wear in public to its own style— “athleisure.” The Olympics is the perfect time for designers to drive interest and sales.
Live and Behind-the-Scenes
As the exclusive broadcaster, NBC is making the most of live streaming and behind-the-scenes opportunities for the Rio games. That opens the door for more ad dollars, as viewers are drawn to this type of special footage, and used to seeing it on the internet.
Video Viewing on YouTube
Even if you don’t have ads on television during the Olympic games this summer, you can still craft ads that maximize on them. Google offers two valuable pieces of advice for targeting the video watcher:
1. Don’t create content that is strictly sports-orientated. Remember, this is a cultural event. The locations of the Olympic games always attract interest, from the music to the food to the people. How can you link your brand?
2. Don’t target sports fans only. Some people who watch the Olympics never watch sports otherwise, and won’t be wooed by typical sports advertising. Speak to their appreciation for travel, parenting, video games, etc.
The Olympics are rich and complex events, and that’s what makes them so great. If your ad campaigns acknowledge the variety of people, emotions, needs and desires involved in this type of event, you’re more likely to be remembered even after the closing ceremonies.