7 Awesome Olympics Campaigns to Inspire Your Marketing

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We're knee deep in 2012 Summer Olympics coverage, and billions of eyes from around the world are watching athletes attempt to break records and bring home the gold.

Hmmm ... seems like a perfect opportunity for marketers, no? Some companies have already jumped on the Olympics bandwagon, leveraging its popularity for their own campaigns. And then there are the elite. The brands that create campaigns that are inspiring to viewers and marketers alike -- whether for the emotion they elicit, or for the reminder of exactly how to execute a remarkable ad or marketing campaign.

So we rounded up the ones that tugged at our heart strings as viewers, or inspired us to be better marketers (sometimes both), and have broken them down here for you. Enjoy!

P&G's "Thank You, Mom" Campaign

Proctor & Gamble created a campaign called "Thank You, Mom" that showed flashbacks of Olympic athletes from all over the world growing up and practicing their sport with support from their mothers. Whether that meant waking up before the sun rose or traveling around the world for their competitions, you saw the athletes' mothers cheering them along, helping them through injuries, and supporting them. Take a look. And maybe grab a tissue.

The campaign launched on Mother's Day (I know, go ahead and grab another tissue) and has since had 5.7 million views on YouTube and 727,068 likes on Facebook. It's a heart warming campaign that every mother can relate to, even if their child isn't an Olympic athlete. 

Marketers can learn a lot from this campaign. Proctor & Gamble, a company that doesn't directly relate to sports or the Olympics, came up with an angle for this campaign that everyone can relate to. That, my friends, is a prime example of newsjacking! I mean, it's a bit easier to come up with a campaign that relates just to your home country, but it's more difficult to be able to touch people all across the globe. By creating a campaign that every mother can relate to and appreciate, Proctor & Gamble reached the entire Olympic audience ... and probable sold more tissues while they were at it.

Mini's "Win Small" Campaign

You know that adorable little car, the Mini Cooper? They created a campaign with the tag line "Dream Big. No Matter What Your Size." How appropriate!

They showed images of smaller people all over the world -- even from different time periods -- winning against taller or larger people even if the odds weren't in their favor. As one of the less-than-hefty cars advertising at the 2012 Olympics, this was a relevant and effective way to stand out against other manufacturers.

This campaign already has 289,146 likes on Facebook and 101,116 views on YouTube. Like P&G, Mini Cooper figured out a way to leverage a common human emotion -- feeling small, in stature or otherwise. The key with this campaign, however, is that feeling of inferiority isn't what's harped on. Instead, Mini made it about best the best despite your handicap. And they did it all while aligning their car with that emotion, and demonstrating the features of their car to boot!

What can marketers learn from the Mini Cooper campaign? They were able to find an Olympics tie-in despite not being naturally aligned with the games. In their campaign, the tie-in is a common human emotion with which we're able to identify. It's that emotion -- triumph in the face of adversity -- that's featured in the Olympics, that's featured in people's everyday lives, and that's features in this campaign that got the attention of people around the world. That common feeling makes viewers feel a connection with not just the car, but with Olympic athletes, too. Because, you know, we could totally train enough in the next four years to qualify to relay with Phelps.

What? It could happen.

McDonald's "Win When USA Wins Gold" Contest

At McDonald's, when you purchase items that have under 400 calories, you can win prizes, some as big as $25K and a trip to London. The way it works? An American athlete's name appears on all food items that are under 400 calories, and if your Olympic athlete wins a gold medal, you win a prize.




In terms of product offerings, most of us probably think of McDonald's as the farthest thing from a logical Olympics sponsor. After all, most of the food isn't exactly suitable for training athletes. Knowing this, McDonald's leveraged the recent trend toward healthy eating combined with the excitement over the Olympics, and is rewarding people who eat healthier while supporting Olympic athletes!

McDonald's best target audience isn't necessarily athletes, but they were able to create an Olympics campaign that caters to their customer base nonetheless -- not to mention who their customer base wants to be. And isn't that what marketing is about? Making your audience feel like with your product or service, they can be exactly who want to be?

Nike's "Find Your Greatness" Campaign

With Adidas as the official sportswear sponsor of the Olympics, Nike needed to think of another way to stand out. They created an ad that showed people from all over the world participating in sports in cities that happened to have London in their name, including London, Ohio, London, Norway, and East London, South Africa. The tagline for the campaign was, "Greatness isn’t reserved for the chosen few in one special city; it can also be found in London, Ohio, and London, Norway, and East London, South Africa, and Little London, Jamaica, and Small London, Nigeria and the London Hotel and London Road."

With over 4 million video views on YouTube, Nike has truly created a remarkable campaign. Instead of spending millions of dollars to be the official sportswear sponsor, they created a campaign that's getting their names in the headlines with the Olympics just as much as their competitor ... if not more.

This is a great lesson for marketers that want to be affiliated with big, expensive events, but without spending the bug bucks. Nike didn't spend billions of dollars in sponsorship (though I'm sure they could have), but they still created a remarkable campaign that received a lot of media attention and resonated with a wide audience. When figuring out what to do for a marketing or advertising campaign, consider other things besides the weight of being the "official sponsor" to create a memorable impression.

Coca-Cola's "Move to the Beat" Campaign

Coca-Cola's Olympics campaign combines people's passions for music and, well, sports (obviously). First, they hired musicians to create songs for five different Olympic sports with sounds from the Olympic athletes training. Second, they recorded a documentary that follows musician Mark Ronson across four continents to meet five Olympic athletes and hear about their journeys. Finally, they created a Facebook app, Track the Beat, to let young people connect with the campaign, listen, and share the music with their friends.

Coca-Cola's campaign is brilliant because they tapped into something that drives young athletes (and most people, really) -- music. When these athletes wake up, they're listening to music. When they train, they're listening to music. When they're performing or playing their sport, they're listening to music. By combining young people's love of music with sports, Coca-Cola came up with a fantastic campaign. Their video already has 655,878 views on YouTube. Marketers should follow Coca-Cola's example by identifying the things in their target personas day-to-day lives that motivate them, and using those things in campaigns to motivate leads and customers to take action.

Cadillac's "Cadillac ATS vs. The World" Campaign

Cadillac launched their campaign during the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, and followed up with 30-second spots throughout the weekend. The commercials were nothing extraordinary; they showed the Cadillac driving through different parts of the world to show that it can drive on different terrains. But the execution of the campaign is what makes it inspiring to marketers -- especially ones who have ever tried to execute a coordinated campaign. If you haven't, well, managing all them moving parts sure ain't easy.

The commercial shown at the Opening Ceremonies was a smashing hit. It has already received 1,243,877 views on YouTube, and Cadillac saw an increase in shopping by 474% over the weekend. By launching at the Opening Ceremonies and then sprinkling additional, shorter commercials throughout the weekend, the new car was embedded in the minds of the viewers.

Marketers struggle to come up with new and creative campaigns every time they want to launch something new. And while that's important, it's even more important to execute the campaign in a strategic way that actually helps your overall business goals. Consider things like your audience's attention span, and what other companies are simultaneously trying to get attention to ensure your creative efforts aren't diminished or lost entirely to issues with executing.

Samsung's "Take Part" Campaign

The Samsung "Take Part" campaign uses different technologies to stay up to date on everything that's happening during the Olympics. First, they offer apps that give you updates on the Olympics including schedules, winners, and locations. They also have a Facebook app that lets you see what others are saying about the Olympics on social media. There's even a blogger that posts consistent updates on the app.




It's not always easy to integrate mobile marketing into your campaigns, but if you have an opportunity to do it, it will attract so many more people. This year, many are watching the Olympics from their mobile phones or iPads -- even simultaneously as they watch on their television -- which gives companies a perfect opportunity to show that they're relevant through the mobile landscape. As a mobile provider, it's even more critical that Samsung shows its leadership and expertise in the mobile marketing space.

In fact, we should all be taking note from Samsung and integrating mobile into our campaigns. Whether it means creating an app for events or our business, hosting contests that leverage mobile capabilities, or simply maintaining a mobile optimized website, doing so shows your audience that you're a forward-thinking company ... and it'll get you there faster than your competitors. As the world moves closer and closer towards mobile ubiquity, don't you want to be one of the first ones there with your marketing?

What other Olympics campaigns have inspired you, in 2012 or from previous Olympics?

Image credit: Dave Catchpole



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