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Tokyo Olympics 2020: which brands will win gold for creativity?

The Drum rounds up the best of Tokyo Olympics creative work

After a year’s delay to the Tokyo Olympics 2020, it’s been an unusual start for sponsors’ campaigns. Here, as part of our Sports Marketing Deep Dive, The Drum pulls together this year’s creative contestants as they push off the starting line in their race for attention.

From major global sponsors to the small and local, the Olympics attracts some of the best creative activations from brands. Years in the making – although delayed for an additional year thanks to the pandemic – the activity of the brands is an important part of the fanfare.

We will be updating the below round-up of the latest brand campaigns throughout the competition, which will take place in Tokyo between July 23 and August 8.

Channel 4 'Super. Human'

To be a Paralympian, there’s got to be something wrong with you. This is the premise of this year’s Channel 4 Tokyo 2020 Paralympic campaign, which serves as a more gritty look at the trials and tribulations of competing at the Games for these ‘Super. Humans’.

“We spotted an opportunity to present Paralympians in a way they hadn’t been shown before – by pointing a camera at the realities of their lives and, as with any elite athlete, the sacrifices they make in pursuit of greatness,” explains Lynsey Atkin, 4Creative’s exec creative director, on capturing the blood, sweat, sacrifices and dedication it takes.

“Whether that’s defying medical advice, missing c­­hildren’s birthdays, anxiety, repetition, getting endless blisters – collectively these choices paint a story of mental determination, not of disability.”

Set to a freshly-recorded version of Bugsy Malone’s So You Want to Be a Boxer? by Jay Prince, the film candidly shows various British Paralympians preparing for Tokyo, including Ali Jawad, David Smith, Ellie Simmonds, Jody Cundy, Jordanne Whiley, Kadeena Cox and Kylie Grimes.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

The International Olympic Committee 'What Agnes Saw'

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has showcased 'What Agnes Saw', the latest film in its 'Stronger Together' digital campaign featuring the oldest-living Olympic Champion, Agnes Keleti, and the youngest-ever British Olympian, skateboarding prodigy Sky Brown.

The video juxtaposes the wisdom of age with the passion of youth to offer a light in the darkness and remind people of the moments of hope and inspiration that occur when the world comes together for the Olympic Games.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Nike 'Best Day Ever'

With the Olympics just around the corner, Nike has brought out ‘Best Day Ever’, the next chapter of its Play New Campaign, which depicts a world where anything in sport is possible.

Featuring Sha'Carri Richardson, who hit headlines recently after she received a month suspension after testing positive for marijuana, the ad speaks to the notion that we can create a better future for all athletes through the joy of movement and play.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Birds Eye 'Proud to Power Team GB'

Having become the official plant-based supporter of Team GB ahead of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Birds Eye has launched a campaign that focuses on the link between its plant-powered 'Green Cuisine' range and Team GB.

The TVC leads with Olympic athlete Laviai Nielsen, who is seen competing in her sport as she pushes herself to extraordinary limits, powered by Birds Eye.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

France.TV 'Few Seconds Before...'

In the lead-up to the Summer Paralympic Games, France.TV has launched a campaign titled ‘Few Seconds Before’ which aims to promote the games and celebrate the athletes taking part.

Created by MullenLowe France, the film shows previous medal-winning athletes getting ready to return to their field of play, from fencing, triathlon, and shot put, to long jump, and football. The tension is palpable, concentration is high, and the viewer's heart beats in time with the athletes', to the rhythm of the musical introduction of Queen's 'We Will Rock You'.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

The National Lottery ‘When you play a little, you help our athletes a lot’

National Lottery operator Camelot has launched a humorous ad that plays on the fact that some funds from sales go directly towards supporting elite athletes, including Olympic competitors. The ad shows a series of playful situations in which the public is helping athletes train, including taekwondo athlete Lutalo Muhammad smashing through the image of a wedding picture donated by a presumably recently divorced woman.

The ad will run across TV, radio, digital and high-impact OOH, while many National Lottery assets will now have the Team GB and ParalympicsGB branding added.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Coca-Cola India ‘Thumbs Up Tokyo 2020’

Coca-Cola India brand Thumbs Up has launched a campaign to celebrate India’s 100th year participating in the competition.

The ad shows athletes turning their bottles upside down, turning the icon of the Thumbs Up into a visual symbol of grit and determination. The brand says the ad is celebrating everyday heroism – something it hopes will resonate with the Indian population, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

SK-II ‘VS’

SK-II Studio has returned with animated anthology series ‘VS’.

It features top Olympic athletes including gymnast Simone Biles, swimmer Liu Xiang, tennis player Ishikawa Kasumi, badminton duo Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsutomo, surfer Mahina Maeda and Japan’s women’s national volleyball team.

SK-II’s f­­irst-of-its-kind series aims to inspire every woman with the message they have the power to #ChangeDestiny.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

P&G ‘Lead with Love’

Five years after Procter and Gamble (P&G) unveiled its Rio masterpiece ‘Thank You Mom’, which celebrated the mothers behind Olympic and Paralympic champions, it is now gearing up for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games, with the Tide and Always owner looking to reduce viewers to tears once more by shining its spotlight on parents.

The FMCG giant has unveiled a multi-brand campaign inspired by the many Olympic and Paralympic athletes who are not only achieving athletic greatness, but are also committing to acts of good and making a positive difference in their communities.

Feeding into P&G’s wider ‘Lead with Love’ push, these sporting proteges are the stars of two new films marking the FMCG brand’s Olympic partnership.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

BBC ‘Let’s Go There’

In anticipation of the BBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 across TV, radio and online, BBC Creative, the broadcaster’s in-house creative agency, teamed up with Nexus Studios and Factory Fifteen to create a dynamic trail that magically reimagines the vibrant host city.

In the trail, Tokyo has been taken over by the Olympics with street signs, shops, an arcade, Gashapon parlor, a sports fanatic’s bedroom and a J-Pop music video all jam-packed with references to Olympic sports, athletes and even BBC presenters.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

France.TV 'Sumo'

To celebrate the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, France.TV and its agency, MullenLowe France partnered with illustrator Stéphane Levallois. Inspired by the masters of Japanese art, notably Katsushika Hokusai and his iconic painting 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'.

The film shows a sumo wrestler roaming the Japanese countryside, using nature and the surrounding dreamlike landscapes to represent some of the disciplines contested at the Summer Olympics, including surfing, skateboarding, athletics and basketball, which the character tries throughout the spot. To finish, he is seen standing in the middle of a stadium after training, ready for the big competition.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

United ‘It’s Time to Let Yourself Fly’

American airline and Team USA sponsor United has launched a campaign that aims to link the anticipation of competing in the Olympics with a return to travel. Under the tagline ’Time to Let Yourself Fly’, the hero creative is a 30-second spot that features key American athletes, set in an air hangar. According to United, the athletes in the video were all chosen for their “shared values of ambition, excellence, diversity and unity on a global stage”.

As well as the ads, United will be featuring signage across its terminals and launching a set of special edition amenity and pajama kits on flights.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Check out The Drum’s Sports Marketing hub for more on how the marketing industry can score long-term success through association with sport.

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