What an incredible two weeks the Olympics turned out to be! For seventeen days, billions of eyes around the world were locked on athletes as they fought to bring home gold, silver and bronze as well as break world records. Significantly, for the first time, the International Olympic Committee took the decision to open the games to non-sponsors; providing brands with the opportunity to weigh in and leverage the popularity of the Games.
The term ‘A Global Village’ could not be more fitting than when discussing the Olympics. Not only does the Olympics open our eyes to the world just that little bit more, time and time again it showcased different cultures, fostering engagement and openness. Technology enabled the hard work and talent from around the world to be witnessed, taking the world along for the journey as 65 Olympic and 19 world records were well and truly broken.
As such, the stage was set for marketing to play a huge part in the games and Rio 2016 was dubbed the ‘Content Olympics’. But, what did this mean?
The 2012 London Olympics were widely considered to be the first ‘social Olympics’ as sport burst into our lives through Twitter, the social media platform orientated through moments and quick points of view. A lot has changed in the 4 years, new technologies burst onto the scene and the term content became a staple part of marketing lingo. The foundations of ‘content marketing’ were in ‘creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content with the overall aim of attracting and retaining a clearly-defined audience’. Whatever you choose to define it as, ‘content marketing’ is clearly on the up, as a report by Yahoo and Enders earlier this year showed that UK content marketing spend will be around the £349 million mark by 2020.
Rio 2016 saw brands attempt to captivate and engage with its large and varied audience across a multitude of channels. Technology offered easy access to content and platforms provided the means of distribution. ‘Live’ was a theme of the Olympics, with Periscope, Facebook Live and Snapchat offering a platform for around the clock action and back stage interviews with athletes. Snapchat was a hot favourite as it ran with the ‘Rio Story’, overall amounting 50m views of Olympic highlights through deals with NBC and the BBC as well as getting the stamp of approval from USA Today who called Team USA Basketball ‘the greatest snapchat team ever’.
Social media continued to play a key engagement role with 42% of UK Twitter users staying up until the early hours to watch the Olympic coverage. Despite 72% originally planning not to do so, events such as Adam Peaty’s swimming gold, drew a large crowd, with UK tweeting peaking at 3am. With 3.7bn active media engagements (BBC). It was official, Rio 2016 was global.
The concept of ‘live’ far surpassed the tweet engagement levels of 2012, as real time live updates provided new platforms for brands to engage with their customers. Brands such as O2, Under Armour, Land Rover, DFS Samsung and of course, Team GB all had extensive content led strategies.
Facebook were on a mission to push content through their platform, signing up celebrities, sponsors and publishers. Coca-Cola worked with teen influencers on Facebook Live for their #ThatsGold campaign, Visa streamed its brand ambassadors whilst DFS showcased their gold medal winning TeamGB ambassadors. TeamGB content was absolutely everywhere, offering up live interviews with the athletes themselves as Gethin Jones interviewed athletes for Team GB’s Facebook Live Studio.
As the games continued, UK audience interest continued to swell with considerable hype in the run up to what we hoped would be another ‘super Saturday’ (which was actually surpassed by the events of the Sunday). The continued rise in engagement levels is of course attributed to Team GBs continued success but also to the multitude of platforms and channels which showcased the content. Yes, Rio 2016 was a content Olympics as brands successfully engaged with consumers, but it was more than that. It was the ‘Live Olympics’.