Think It. Blog It.

The Olympics

Well folks, who were the winners and the losers in the "Marketing Olympics" of 2012? Much commentary, but how do you judge? Our yardstick is simply ‘Was the Idea bigger than the spend?’  From share of mind, through share of heart and only then to share of wallet.

Our Verdict: 



Nike – Yes, the wily Nike team again understood the appeal of the outsider, the challenger position. Their 'Find Your Greatness' campaign captured the London 2012 spirit almost as well as the Opening Ceremony – personal, intimate and very un-American. The smartest move was to advertise their presence on the field with bright canary yellow flashes on the feet of so many athletes – and now on style aficionados all over town. All without the £100m-odd sponsor fees. Gold.


Powerade – Similar tactic: some mass-media brand messaging backed by shots of endless athletes swigging from the familiar bottles: the brand in action, at the centre of the action. QED. But it could have had some personality: beyond the head, a touch of humour would have gone some way to capture some heart. Silver.


Adidas – They paid the sponsors fees, then paid the price: an archetypal "big, bad exploitation" message by War on Want, projected 65ft high beside the Olympic Stadium, might have slightly pricked the bubble of goodwill. Product design (the joint venture with Stella McCartney) saved the day, associating the brand quietly with the Team GB success. Then a slightly awkward video making the GB athletes mime to 'Queen' after the event, brought them back down to the lower podium. Bronze…


Losers - Of course, Visa – for it's insistence on ignoring hearts or minds, and going straight for the wallets. McDonalds for being big, American and McDonalds. Coca-Cola, interestingly, was uncharacteristically low-key, so avoided the tall poppy syndrome. Instead, focusing on music, and resisting the urge to claim that it was their products that fuelled the happy mood of the event itself – understanding its audience.

Lessons learned?

1. If the product works , make the product do the work!

2. A big idea – engage the mind and then lift the heart across media.

3. Don't let ‘big advertising’ claims lead the parade.

4. If in UK act modest – especially if you are huge.

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