Major sporting events and major brands go hand in hand, and marketers can't get started early enough with pre-event promotions.
Witness the recent Super Bowl. An unprecedented number of Super Bowl ads appeared prior to the Super Bowl, as online unveilings appeared via YouTube and on promotional websites. Some pundits questioned the wisdom of such pre-game publicity, wondering if it simply undermined advertising effectiveness.
But that isn't stopping big brands from doing it again, this time in advance of the 2012 Summer Olympics to be held in London. Coca-Cola, a major Super Bowl advertiser, has gone public with its "Move to the Beat" London 2012 Olympics campaign that was announced in September.
Infused with Coke's red and white brand colors, the spot — which will run in 30-, 60-, and 120-second versions — depicts five Olympic athletes set to a dance track and also shows Ronson with Katy B performing the song, as they will do, live, during the Summer Games. Ronson and Coca-Cola traveled the world to record the sounds of sport from the Olympic hopefuls to incorporate into the track.
The goal of the campaign is simple: to inspire youths with the spirit and joy (in keeping with Coke's "Open Happiness" theme) of the Olympics and Paralympic Games via music. In addition to TV and Facebook marketing, Coke has also created a “Beat Wall” painted by young urban artists in London’s Hackney area.
Shay Drohan, global SVP for sparkling brands for Coca-Cola, tells Stuart Elliott of the New York Times that the campaign represents "the coming together of pop culture, music, sport and celebrity in London." Coca-Cola wants to appeal to "a generation of teens and young adults," Drohan said.
Coca-Cola intends to begin airing the ads this month across Europe, rolling them out to other countries from now until July 27th, the starting date for the Summer Olympics. A behind-the-scenes half-hour Channel 4 documentary shows Ronson's world travels so he could capture the athletes in action was also created.
Coke isn't the only brand to start showing its Olympic spirit. BMW revealed its plans to build a "floating showroom" above a river that flows between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre. BMW says the showroom will attract as many as 8,000 visitors a day. The automaker will also provide 4,000 of its vehicles to be used for transporting Olympics athletes and officials.
Interestingly, Nike, who is not an official Olympics sponsor, has managed to do an end run around the Olympics while, at the same time, garnering Olympic-size attention. According to Brand Republic, citing research by UK digital agency Jam, Nike is "dominating conversations on the Internet" and is the brand "most associated with the 2012 Olympics," even though arch-rival Adidas is the official Olympics sponsor in the sporting goods category.
Nike's visibility is thought to be the result of the #makeitcount social campaign the brand launched in January and reiterated with its FuelBand launch. In the U.K., the Make It Count campaign focuses on several Nike-sponsored British athletes without any reference to the Olympics — but somehow, promoting British athletes in an Olympic year when London is hosting the summer games creates the perception, evidently, that Nike is an official sponsor. While not exactly ambush marketing, Nike was within its rights to run the campaign and did not break any Olympics rules in doing so.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in the Nike-Adidas battle for Olympic superiority. Nike and Adidas have certain British athletes under contract, but members of Team Great Britain have been asked to sign a contract they will wear the clothing and footwear of Adidas "while moving about the Olympic Village and during medal ceremonies." But athletes under contract to Nike "may have to accept any medals they receive barefoot" in order to avoid a conflict.
The International Olympic Committee, which has had some of its own controversy surrounding the fragmented logo it is using for the summer event, is also burnishing its brand awareness and launched a global marketing campaign for the OIC using the theme "The Best of Us" late last year.