It’s Olympics time again and millions around the world are enjoying watching a multitude of sports, many of which we only take an interest in every four years. We become armchair experts and hop from channel to channel to consume as much and as many sports as we possibly can.
The exceptional skills displayed by the athletes is mindboggling. Looking at gymnastics, it is hard to believe that bodies can be manipulated to such an extent!
But it is a very different Olympic Games this year. There are no crowds and no fan parks. We never realised how important these elements are to the overall excitement of the entire Olympic package until they were not there. The usual full month of sport has also been condensed into a mere two weeks this time.
The statistics point to a decline in interest in the Olympics this year, although the Millenials and GenZs have shown more interest as the games have progressed.
One must spare a thought for the sponsors who have invested millions of dollars to partner with the Olympics. There are no crowds to help them achieve that all important return on investment (ROI) via sales. Not to mention that there are no sales of the replica clothing that is synonymous with large international sporting events. The full impact of Covid-19 on the Games will only be known in the months to come.
But it is the sports rights holders that this blog is going to focus on.
Creating fan engagement is critical for rights holders, no matter what the platform, be it linear TV, CTV or on the different digital platforms available. Fan engagement leads to brand awareness, brand love and it ultimately create sales. How to effectively grab the attention of the fans is no easy task at the best of times, especially with new forms of entertainment joining the clutter every day. And which media or social media platform to use and how to use these also need a carefully crafted strategy to reach the desired target audience.
It’s in situations like this, regarded as a crisis, when creativity becomes critical and PR agencies are needed to provide the creative story-telling ability to help position brands. PR is needed in the marketing mix more now than even ever before.
Guidelines on how sponsors can utilise the Olympic logo and how they can associate with the games is strictly regulated. Purchasing the rights is one thing, being able to leverage the rights is quite another matter, which pushes up the costs exponentially. Olympic brands have been tested to the hilt and must expand budgets even further to be heard and create that much needed awareness.
The pandemic hasn’t been kind to brands as many have taken massive knocks in sales creating a vacuum, and now they must spend more to leverage their sporting associations in a time when most brands have changed strategies linking sponsorships to sales as opposed to brand identity and awareness.
One way to possibly have helped sponsors achieve a higher ROI in this unique situation could have been, allowing some form of in-stadium branding. After all, live exposure is how the games are primarily consumed and incidental branding for sponsors might have been a good compromise. Once the excitement has died down highlights and short inserts will be shared for years to come on all platforms, whether on YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and all others. The newest data from the Maru Group pointed to fans between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer to watch highlights as opposed to hours of watching live. Could brands benefitted from this?
With the rising popularity of the new digital viewing experience, brands can hopefully make use of Olympic footage and put their own visuals together with a direct link to brand messaging. There have been many brands that have taken ideas from the sports that they sponsor and put an omnichannel catchy and creative video together driving product.
The need to belong has emerged out of the pandemic and brands need to show they care. In fact consumers actively seek out products that they perceive as caring for the community. Utilising the Olympics in a visual and fund post Olympics campaign would go down well amongst the consumers.
And what about replica clothing and other goods? I have attended international events and even a hardcore PR lady like myself with years of travel behind me have frequented many shops that stock replica goods and have spent a fortune purchasing for myself and my entire vast extended family. Companies have to pay a fee to be able to produce replica goods and it will be interesting to see the statistics come from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It is up to the Olympic sponsors to find that element and then creatively package it into a valuable original content driver to tell their own unique story in a way only their brand can. It could even be a look behind the scenes, taking a closer look at athletes, training or even asking fans to show how they are consuming the Olympics in their own special way.
Sponsors can capitalise on the Olympics by allowing it to live far beyond its live 2 weeks. However, the feeling of many brand managers is to cut off immediately after the event
Looking at recent stats put out by Deloitte show that fans are very interested to be kept up to date during ‘off-seasons” (albeit this is not based on the Olympics)
● 65 percent of fans say they want some form of content or information at least monthly during the off-season.
● More than 60 percent of fans say a great “year-round experience” would make them more likely to be more engaged with the team in the coming season.
● 55 percent say it would make them more likely to purchase a ticket in the future.
Time will tell how sponsors will utilise their Olympic association. We have seen some great ads coming out in the UK, let’s keep tracking.