Much has been written about London 2012 organisers' tough stance on Olympic marketing, but what can we learn from past Games? As we gear up for tomorrow's opening ceremony, Fred Porro, managing director of experiential marketing agency Ignite, gives us his Hall of Fame of the greatest Olympic marketing campaigns of all time.
Porro has worked on five Olympics, dating back to the 1996 summer games in Atlanta. He helped LOCOG develop its experiential ideas and has worked with various global sponsors, most recently EDF Energy on the activation of its sponsorship of London 2012.
"The biggest marketing opportunity of recent history is on our doorstep," Porro says. "Just as the athletes learn from those who have gone before them so can today’s marketers."
Do you agree with his list? Share your suggestions in our comments section below. Oh and don't forget, if you think you can create a better Olympics ad, be sure to enter it into our Fauxlympics competition.
Games: All since 1992
Brand: Coca Cola
Porro says: "Before Coca-Cola sponsored the relay, the torch was carried by athletes from the host company. With Coca-Cola’s involvement torch carriers are now real life heroes and inspiring members of the community.
"It has grown from being an add-on to the games to a festival in itself, engaging with millions of people and supporting thousands of community programmes."
Games: London 2012
Brand: Channel Four
"Channel Four set itself a challenging target, to double the BBC’s viewing figures for the 2008 Paralympics. And it is putting its money where its mouth is with a multimillion-pound TV ad campaign, supported by outdoor posters, press ads and digital activity. The channel’s biggest marketing push in its 30-year history.
"The ‘Meet the Superhumans’ ad launches the campaign with a bang. To the soundtrack of Public Enemy’s 'Harder Than You Think the ad showcases the sweat and ambition of the paralympic athletes in gritty reality. The shot in the middle of the ad showing an exploding bomb, car crash and pregnant women being given some bad news, firmly makes the point that these athletes aren’t just human but superhuman."
Games: Beijing 2008
Brand: Li Ning
"For the Olympics in Beijing 2008, sponsor Adidas had the kind of marketing budget few could compete with and yet Li Ning is the name people remember.
"During the opening ceremony of the show former Chinese Olympian Li Ning ran suspended around the Bird’s Nest to light the Olympic flame – viewed by an estimated 4 billion people.
"In a classic case of ambush marketing, Li Ning and by association his sporting apparel company became the face of the Olympics putting sponsors Adidas’ nose firmly out of joint. The publicity saw Li Ning’s stocks soared and the chain opening two stores a day throughout 2008."
Games: Beijing 2008 in the US, Montreal 2010 worldwide
"Visa’s Go World campaign uses highly emotive examples of sporting achievement to highlight Visa’s sponsorship of the Olympic games.
"The campaign works around Visa’s core aim of giving ‘people everywhere the ability to take action and to make the most out of their lives every day’. The iconic adverts feature a Morgan Freeman voice-over urging us to ‘stand and cheer and celebrate as one’.
"Already dripping with emotion the ads go on to highlight great sporting achievement including a tear-jerker featuring Derek Redmond who at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona tore his hamstring during the 400 metres semi-final and was helped over the finish line by his father."
Games: Canada 2010
Brand: Canadian Olympic Team
"In 2009 the Canadian Olympic Committee launched a simple but effective campaign in the form of red knitwear. Fans paid $10 for a pair of specially designed red mittens to wear at matches. The maple leaf on the inside creates a palm sized Canadian flag to wave.
"The mittens had their first public endorsement when the Canadian team wore them as they circled the track during the parade of nations. Their popularity snowballed and by the end of the year the mittens were seen on celebrities, politicians and athletes. Oprah even gave them a plug.
"The red mittens program raised more than $14 million in its first year with 3.5 million pairs sold."
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