Marketers: No Brand Deserves Gold Digital Olympics

Nike, P&G's superb TV efforts offset by lackluster social integrations

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If you listen to tech players, Summer Olympics advertisers Nike and Procter & Gamble are definitely among the brands that deserve gold medals for their traditional media efforts. But when it comes to digital marketing, the top step on the podium should simply remain unoccupied until brands get more sophisticated, they suggested. And there’s data to back up their stances.

Olympics advertisers—nearly across the board—have been coming up short in social media, according to research from A.T. Kearney. The firm analyzed 246 television spots placed by 140 brands, finding that only 10 percent of the commercials referenced branded properties on Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube.

Jim Singer, study sponsor and a partner in A.T. Kearney, said companies' lackluster digital integrations during the Olympics reverses a trend of the heightened TV-and-Web interactivity seen during the Super Bowl.

"We didn’t give out a gold medal," Singer said, citing his company’s Aug. 8 report. "If you are going to do it, do it right. Going forward, we feel that advertisers have no choice but to extend the powerful storytelling of TV spots by integrating them with all other channels. You can have [dedicated] digital content that plays off of the TV spots, too."

Brad Klaus, CEO for Extole, lauded the creative for Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” TV campaign. But, he said, “they missed an opportunity for a Nike Olympics app [or] campaign that allows users to share their own stories of greatness. Nike could have taken its presence during the Olympics to the next level by incorporating consumer participation through social media.”

Will Scott, chief exec at Search Influence, echoed Klaus' sentiment while focusing on how Procter & Gamble—roundly praised for its "Thank you, Mom" initiative—could have done even better. Scott said the CPG giant should have, as one example, taken its sponsorship deal with U.S. swimmer Ryan Lotche for its Gillette brand and done more with him online.

"My point here is that had P&G thought not just about the typical endorsement, but how they could turn those endorsements into social engagement, they would be making maximum leverage of the athletes," he said. "Imagine if the first 100 new ‘likes’ on Facebook got to take part in a live video chat with the athlete. Or, [what] if the first 1,000 were entered for a training day with the athlete?"

But there were plenty of bouquets tossed as well, particularly in the direction of P&G and Nike.

"P&G has knocked this one out of the park," said Carree Syrek, chief strategist at Kinetic Social. "I know that this is not really a shock to anyone but the TV/online/offline integration…has been fantastic and really tight. The recency of the campaign—meaning that they are changing up their creative rather quickly to reflect the [Olympics medal] winners—is also very good."

Like Klaus from Extole, Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of social video firm Jun Group, pointed to Nike’s moving "Greatness" effort, which has not only garnered attention because of its TV commercials but also the millions of YouTube views generated. "In a way," he said, "it's an anti-Olympics campaign, which gives it an air of authenticity that's worth more than a traditional sponsorship."

Once the Summer Olympics end on Sunday, the branding community will also likely remember them for the nutrition-related PR hits endured by McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

"The McDonald’s and Coke bad press is a real shame," said Syrek from Kinetic Social. "Both have been sponsors of the games for quite some time, and the hullabaloo about nutrition and the call to remove them as sponsors is rather silly."


@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.