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Holding a Torch to Olympic Sponsorship

July 9th, 2012

This summer’s Olympic Games in London, beginning July 27th, promise to be an exciting show of international athleticism. However, many Olympic corporate sponsors face the challenge of creating marketing campaigns that appeal to younger generations by relying on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. According to Coca-Cola, the average Olympic viewer in developed countries is 45 years old, much older than the targeted age group of Olympic corporate sponsors, such as Visa, McDonald’s, and Samsung.

In an attempt to increase Olympic youth involvement, Coca-Cola has created the campaign song “Anywhere in the World”, which features a rhythm consisting of naturalistic athletic sounds. Through the use of free software, also available for Smartphones, users can remix the song, as well as personalize the music video by adding their own photographs. Users are encouraged to post these videos to Facebook and the Coca-Cola website. So far, more than 3 million music videos have been posted. Coca-Cola will continue to expand this movement by constructing a 70 ft “Beat Box” in London that visitors can use to remix the song. Through its use of social media, Coca-Cola has created a highly successful marketing campaign that supplies a global anthem for the Olympic Games.

Visa has also jumped on the social media bandwagon through its creation of the “Go World” campaign in which users are encouraged to post cheering videos to Visa’s Facebook or YouTube page. Visa will then choose the best cheers to appear in commercials during the Olympic Games, literally making Visa’s users part of the action.

On the other hand, Samsung’s attempt to harvest the power of social media has led to a lawsuit. Samsung’s Genome Project which maps connections between Facebook users and Olympians has been considered a violation of privacy because Samsung never received athletes’ consent before launching the campaign.

Despite its current prevalence, Olympic corporate sponsorship was not allowed until Avery Brundage, President of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), retired in 1972. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games was the first Olympics to allow corporate sponsorship. Some of its major sponsors included McDonald’s sponsorship of a swimming stadium and 7-Eleven’s sponsorship of a cycling track. As a result of corporate sponsorship, the 1984 Olympics was the first Olympics Games to produce a profit, $225 million, since the 1936 Games.

Along with these large corporate sponsorships, there are still many opportunities available for smaller corporate sponsors. After the women’s 100m tie in track, wouldn’t it be interesting to have a company sponsor the tie-breaking coin toss? Which company sponsors Olympic insurance? It would be interesting to add corporate sponsorship to some of the more human elements of the Olympics, such as band-aids, medical gauze, antiseptics, and deodorant.

Currently, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are being challenged for their sponsorship of the Olympic Games. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges claims that McDonald’s and Coca-Cola’s sponsorships are unhelpful due to booming obesity rates. Just this week, the IOC chief Jacques Rogge stated that McDonald’s and Coca-Cola’s Olympic sponsorships are questionable due to rising obesity rates. This public statement has stirred up quite a controversy by attacking two of the oldest and most loyal Olympic sponsors.

As the torch relay and Olympic trials continue, we wish our athletes the best of luck! We believe that your performances as well as social media corporate sponsorship campaigns will truly fulfill the 2012 Olympic Games motto to “Inspire a Generation”.

Posted Under: Advertising, Digital & Social Media
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