Why Rio 2016 was marketing gold

Enjoy Digital
By Enjoy Digital
5 minutes to read

And so the Olympics came to a close earlier this week with team GB managing to secure an impressive second position in the overall standings after winning a total of 67 medals (27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze) – an unexpected but well deserved achievement!

Yorkshire once again proved itself to be a vital part of the team, managing to secure a sufficient number of medals to beat the likes of Canada, New Zealand and South Africa had it stood as a country of its own in the rankings.

According to Google’s Olympics Hub, a treasure trove of interesting search stats and trends relating to The Games, interest levels in the Olympics grew worldwide compared to those seen for the 2012 event.

Smartphone-generated queries particularly spiked during this year's games with over 83% of Google searches about Olympics adverts coming from mobile devices.

This was great news for brands, both official sponsors and non, who seized the opportunity to create highly inspiring adverts which resulted in increases in positive brand sentiment by 24 percentage points for the former and 27 for the latter.

A total of 216,966 Olympic Sponsor brand mentions were recorded across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube in the period of The Games. Coca Cola earned the lion’s share of these, with 34,400 mentions, while Samsung and Visa both generated just under 30,000.

The most searched for brands included BMW, Coke, McDonalds while the best remembered adverts which were released in the build up to Rio 2016 were Nike’s ‘Unlimited’ campaign, focused on the story of the everyday athlete, followed by the Coca Cola ‘That’s gold’ advert.

These and similar motivational adverts led to a surge in “Mid-Year” resolutions. Worldwide, both generic gym-related search queries such as ' gym membership' as well as some branded gym terms e.g. Virgin Active, Pure Gym and Anytime Fitness spiked during the Olympics as people experienced that ‘Yes, we can’ feeling and a few gyms actually took advantage of the situation by offering promotional membership deals.

Obviously some gym related queries, such as 'join a gym', mostly had nothing to do with the Rio 2016 games but rather were a by-product of the Pokemon Go phenomenon which gripped the world when it was released at the beginning of July.

Obviously brand recall and positive sentiments weren’t the only benefits for advertisers at the Olympics. Purchase intent increased by 25 percentage points for official sponsors while for non-official sponsors it rose by 32 points.

It wasn’t easy for all advertisers to participate in the hype created by the games, as tighter social network and advertising guidelines meant that a large list of Olympic-related keywords were trademarked and strictly off the table.

However brands quickly found new ways to get involved by establishing new ways to refer to the Olympics e.g. with the hashtag #TheBigEvent and by creating memes and conversations around key athletes and wins.


For example, The Brownlee Brothers’ gold & silver medals in the triathlon, which was the second most talked about Olympic event on social with over 300,000 engagements, and Usain Bolt’s triple-triple gold win followed by his running man dance which resulted in 572,746 engagements.

So now that the Olympics are over, what's next?

Hang on, it's not over just yet! The Paralympics start on the 7th September and the Superhumans campaign launched to promote the event has certainly got us excited for it.

So far we've seen that there has been an increase in interest around many of the sports in which team GB triumphed and we hope that their victories have inspired the British athletes who will be competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as well as future generations of athletes, although we do feel like the not-so-real Bill Murray may have a point.

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