Marketers use on-the-ground events to show Olympic spirit

Brands are using the 2012 Olympic Games in London as a platform to embrace consumers' "always on" mentality through a mix of music, social media, and grassroots events.

Brands are using the 2012 Olympic Games in London as a platform to embrace consumers' “always on” mentality through a mix of music, social media, and grassroots events.

Coca-Cola, which has been an Olympic partner since 1928, is taking advantage of the upcoming games to launch its biggest social media campaign to date, says Kate Hartman, senior manager of global brand PR for Coca-Cola.

The company's “Move to the Beat” campaign will focus on a song created by DJ Mark Ronson and up-and-coming singer Katy B called “Anywhere in the World,” which incorporates the sounds of athletes in action.

“The song combined with the stories of the athletes is a dream for PR,” said Hartman, explaining that it will help the company attract teens and boost human interest in the athletes' stories. She adds that the brand distributed invitations to several hundred teens through Twitter when the song was recorded in London last September.

The beverage company is also planning a 30-minute TV program in conjunction with London's ITV that will air every weekday during the Games.

“We have really been looking for ways to bring younger people everywhere closer to the action of the games. Through a daily TV show, we have the opportunity to show them not only the sports side, but also give them the social aspect of the London 2012 games,” Hartman explains.

Duracell, a first-time Olympic sponsor, is highlighting its connection to the Games through the “Rely on Copper to Go for the Gold” program. 

The company will show off several Olympic athletes who use Duracell's battery power in their training equipment or traveling devices. Consumers can visit Duracell's Facebook app to view the “virtual stadium,” learn about the athletes, or send them messages, videos, and photos of support, says Chris Hayes, group director at Citizen Paine, Duracell's AOR for more than eight years.

Similar to Coca-Cola, Duracell created an original song dedicated to the athletes called “Champions” with artists B.o.B and O.A.R., which fans can download for free on Facebook.

The 2012 Olympic Games will kick off next Friday and end August 12. The Games are expected to attract a TV audience of more than a billion people worldwide.

Major consumer-facing brands will also launch apps to reach consumers during the Olympics. General Electric will leverage Facebook for an app called “Healthy Share.” Its objective is to “use the Olympic Games as a launching point” to encourage consumers to get healthier and share their fitness goals with friends, says Megan Parker, PR manager for GE corporate. The app includes fitness routines and challenges for consumers that were created by former Olympians like sprinter Michael Johnson and swimmer Summer Sanders.

Electronics brand Panasonic will incorporate a Facebook and mobile app, as well. The Flag Tags app will allow consumers to superimpose their national flag onto a photo of their face to support their home country, explains Betty Noonan, marketing VP for Panasonic North America.

In addition to digital elements, the company has a “very grassroots and very family-oriented” program with US Women's Soccer. Panasonic has given the athletes and their families digital cameras to take to London to document their journeys, and the brand will post the resulting content on its social channels.

On-the-ground efforts are also a focus for BMW, which partners with the US bobsled, speed skating, swimming, and track and field teams to help them with the technical challenges of their sports, says Stacy Morris, marketing communications manager at the automaker.

BMW is also engaging consumers with its “Drive for Team USA” test-drive program. The company is donating $10 for each car that is driven during local events, which include visits from Olympic legends or hopefuls, said Morris.

In 2011, BMW held 277 events and more than 20,000 consumers attended them. So far, the company has hosted 315 events with more to come before the end of August.

“For BMW, experiential marketing has always been a key focus,” she explains. “Being able to introduce people to the Olympic movement one-on-one is a one of the best marketing tools we can have.”

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