120 years young, the modern Olympic Games face the perpetual requirement to remain both relevant and engaging. It continually broadens its stratospheric impact as a brand sponsorship platform and setting for brand owners to prove evolving communications approaches.

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Below are five storylines demonstrating how brands are utilising the Olympic Games to hit their marketing targets.

The 100 day rule

Until now, brands have launched their Olympic marketing campaigns 100 days or more before the Games commence. These past four years, however, have revealed a new pattern which can be attributed to our preoccupation with social media. We’ve seen campaigns being activated only four to six weeks before the opening ceremonies this quadrennial. What impact has this had on the marketing planning process? Businesses have had to be more flexible, agile and strategic in their marketing campaign planning to crunch their timings and ride the Olympic wave so soon before the Games’ official start. Brands without Olympic sponsorship deals have faced an even more difficult set of challenges as a result.

Engaging technology

London’s 2012 Olympic Games were commended for showcasing unprecedented levels of digital marketing activity as, for example, was the case for Sochi with social media. The expectation is that Rio will drive substantial engagement via platforms including Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope (let’s not forget that Snapchat now boasts more daily users than Twitter). There’s also the potential for virtual reality to really hit home this summer as marketers push the technology into experiential campaign elements with the aim of fully immersing fans in all things Rio.

Impacting influencers

The boom in social media content creators as a result of consumer behaviour and new platforms means that brand owners have exciting new opportunities to set themselves apart from competitors and encourage engagement. We could very well see the likes of the Fine Brothers coming up with Olympic-themed content courtesy of X brand in order to facilitate growing younger audiences. Athletes are also, of course, social media influencers, having amassed enormous audiences and they will no doubt be working with their sponsors throughout the games.

Something old

This Olympic Games heralds the re-introduction of ‘rested’ sports rugby and golf – the former returning after a 92-year break. This signals further opportunities for related brands to increase awareness and engagement through proven celebrity advocacy.

Rio has issues

We’re all aware of the much-reported problems with which Rio has been beset. These have resulted in high levels of concern from athletes, sponsors, organisers and fans. We should remember, however, that nearly all Olympic Games in recent history have experienced significant challenges in the run-up to their respective opening ceremonies. And remember that, as the Games have begun, these concerns have largely subsided.

With lifelong dreams of competing at the games, athletes have generally pushed aside any extraneous thoughts in order to focus on chasing medals. As the collective focus moves to a more positive footing, brands which have carefully and strategically prepared their campaigns should expect to see the event through to a successful conclusion.

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