Brand PR Earning Olympic Gold

The Olympic Games are once again top-of-mind, trending on Twitter and filling our DVR libraries, as the Games bring the best athletes together for high-level competition on an international stage. The same can be said for the best brand marketing campaigns, as every four years those who have trained the hardest enter this crowded and anticipated arena, for two weeks only, capturing billions of impressions on a daily basis.

sochiThe Olympic Games, as a brand in and of itself, tug on consumers’ heartstrings while invoking a competitive streak and deep sense of national pride. Through human interest stories detailing the underdog, the crowd favorite, the veteran or the newcomer, the Olympic Games unify each of the respective countries in conversation and storytelling. It is this week’s “how’s the weather?” chit chat, proving the age-old tale of the benefits of hard work and determination. Brands that can capture this essence effectively will resonate with their target audience – with or without official sponsorship.

However, some brands have gotten cold feet, given the high costs involved, both monetary and in terms of risk. Joining a conversation with heated political and social undertones could bring company backlash, as evidenced in the hijacking of McDonald’s #CheerstoSochi campaign.

The following brand strategies make our medal podium for the clear messaging, emotional connection, consumer engagement and integrated approach of their marketing communication programs.

  • Bronze: Dow, the official chemistry company of the Olympics and B2B sponsor, does not stand out as making an immediate connection with the average consumer, yet took innovative action to leverage the Olympic Games’ focus on minimizing environmental impact through education and thought leadership. Dow’s advertising, original content on YouTube and a dedicated Olympic microsite, on-site activation in Sochi, promotion and strategic partnerships all work in tandem to showcase the company’s historic involvement in the Olympic Games over the years, from local infrastructure projects to engineering new sleds for the USA Luge team. What makes Dow noteworthy is its ongoing commitment and vested interest in the environment of the Olympic host city, as evidenced by educating Russian students, engaging local volunteers and developing measurement tools to ensure that the solutions implemented in Russia to minimize the Games’ carbon footprint make a difference.
  • Silver: Visa achieves Olympic recognition for prioritizing Tumblr as the key social media channel for its campaign, offering a voyeuristic look behind-the-scenes at U.S. athletes in action. Humor and wit is injected into beautiful imagery and athletes in motion – content just begging to be shared on social media. Not only does Visa’s Tumblr page link to its Facebook and Twitter accounts, it includes video content as a comprehensive source for all Olympic information, with  paid-advertising directing viewers to the page (the first Olympic sponsor to do so). Visa puts its money where its mouth is by energetically supporting a new(ish) platform and truly being #everywhere their target young consumer wants to be.
  • Gold: Proctor and Gamble established #ThankYouMom, a campaign celebrating its target audience. With dedicated Facebook and Twitter sites, an emotional YouTube video, as well as television, print and online advertising, P&G offered the country a platform in which to engage and celebrate the women behind the athletes. The campaign is not focused on one product, but rather the universal emotion of a mom’s love, from picking up children when they fall to sacrificing for their success. This “feel-good” campaign reminds consumers of P&G’s heart and mission to bring that same level of “mom” care to your family with each of their trusted brands, including Bounty, Charmin Pampers and Tide.

As you view the Olympics on TV in real time, online or on your mobile during this week’s events, let us know the brands to which you would award a medal. And remember, style points count.

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