What the Olympics Can Teach Us About Marketing

By Susan Tucker

It’s been in all my feeds- #SochiProblems and #SochiFails abound. Lousy conditions, bugs in food, yellow water, painted grass, wild dogs… sounds like a marketing nightmare, huh? Never before has pre-Olympic chatter been so grim and – quite honestly – disgusting.

olympiclgooBut, does it matter? We just want to see the athletes put on a peak performance. Even with all the negative press, we’ll still be glued to our sets, rooting our faves on. (For me that will be the Ski Jumping and Luge.)

Marketing challenges are nothing new for the Olympic committee. Even with the very first  Olympics way back in 1896 in Athens, there were money issues. As a result, the next several events had so much advertising that spectators had a hard time finding event info because of all the ads.

Things began to look up as organizers started finding a balance.

In 1928, concessions were added and Coca Cola became an long-standing partner. This all worked out because by the time the Los Angeles Olympics came around in 1932, it was the first one that ever paid off.

TV started shaping the games, as the first to be televised were in Berlin in 1932 with roughly 162,000 local viewers. Product sponsorships and programs were layered in during the Helsinki Games in 1952 and live broadcasting started in 1956. By the time the Atlanta Games rolled around in 1996, broadcasting was reaching 214 countries worldwide.

In 2002, at the Salt Lake City Winter Games, the Olympics had unprecedented marketing success as they established marketing-related records in the areas of broadcasting, ticketing and sponsorship. By 2008, the marketing team brought global partners together – such as collaboration with NBC-  with local sponsors. With the financial support of sponsors, The Olympic Programme  played a fundamental role in staging the Games and in helping the National Olympic Committee with the necessary resources to develop Olympic teams and send athletes to participate, ensuring that the Games properly reflect the global nature of the Olympic Movement.

Fast forward to 2014 and here we are at the Sochi Games. Social media is playing a major role in coverage and marketing efforts have continued to become unprecedented with outreach – even if it is mostly negative.

So, what can we learn from the Olympics about marketing?

Here are my takeaways:

  1. Produce quality content and they will come.
  2. Continually reach outside of the box to attract potential brand enthusiasts.
  3. Put money BACK into the organization for a continually improved product.

What are your takeaways from Olympic marketing?

Source: Olympic.org


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *