Since the first modern Games in Athens in 1896, the Olympics have always been an icon for the power of inspiration. But it’s not just the athletes who compete for gold medals and worldwide acclaim. Many Olympic sponsors like Nike, Procter & Gamble, and Visa have come to capture just as much attention as the events themselves.
As we mark one year to the start of Tokyo 2020, let’s look back at some of the most unforgettable Olympic marketing campaigns in history.
Nike Leads the Way with “Find Your Greatness”
A natural fit to be an official Olympic sponsor, Nike’s powerful “Find Your Greatness” Olympic campaign ran for the 2012 Games in London and stands out as one of the most inspiring ad campaigns of all time.
“Because Nike found great talents from ordinary people from all around the world, the message challenges us to define the word “greatness” in our lives, gives us the power to decide what greatness truly means, and inspires us to go find it,” says Brandon Baker, Brand Strategist for TEGNA Marketing Solutions. “These small moments of greatness span age, race, gender, and culture.”
What can a brand take away from the “Find Your Greatness” campaign?
How can brands use the theme of the everyday hero for the upcoming Games in Tokyo? According to Baker, brands will be facing a critical challenge.
“The pandemic, racial unrest, and calls for social justice happening around the world cannot be ignored,” he says. “Brands will need to use their platform, voice, and creative to tell stories that matter and address relevant issues while delivering respectful messages that inspire and unite. Soul searching may be on deck for many marketing teams this upcoming season.”
Visa Tells Olympic Stories of Glory in “Go World” Campaign
You can’t talk about Olympic commercials without mentioning Visa’s powerful “Go World” campaign. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Visa tells amazing stories of inspirational Olympic athletes including:
- Speed skater Dan Jansen, who won gold six years after the death of his sister
- Long jumper Bob Beamon, who jumped farther than official devices could measure in 1968
- Swimmer Michael Phelps, who won his eighth gold medal by 1/100th of a second
“These emotional moments in Olympic history offer inspiring glimpses into the perseverance and sheer athleticism required to become the greatest,” says Baker.
What can a brand take away from the “Go World” campaign?
“For thirty seconds, these commercials remove you from the commotion of the competitions and forces you to focus on one defining moment in Olympic history,” says Baker. “I believe this campaign transcends time, and would be relevant and effective if it were to run today. It’s educational, emotive, and inspiring.”
P&G Says “Thank you, Mom” on Behalf of Olympic Athletes
In 2010, Proctor & Gamble debuted its “Thank You, Mom” campaign to coincide with the Olympic Games in Vancouver. The campaign was so successful ($500 million in global incremental P&G sales, 76 billion global media impressions, over 74 million global views, and over 370 million Twitter interactions) that P&G continued using it through the 2018 Games in PyeongChang.
The “Thank You, Mom” campaign celebrates the moms behind the athletes — the ones who had to get up for 5 a.m. practice, the ones who made breakfast, washed uniforms, helped coach, and cheered from the stands.
Throughout the years, the campaign has taken inspiration from Olympic athletes, with gymnast Michelle Kwan saying, “My mom’s unconditional love and support were critical to helping me rise above any judgments I may have faced from others. We didn’t have all the resources that some of my competitors had, but we made the most of our opportunities and got through it together.”
What can a brand take away from the “Thank You, Mom” campaign?
While this campaign celebrates the greatness of moms, Baker notes what really makes it stand out. “It’s thought-provoking, and by default the viewer thinks about their own mother. When I am still thinking about the commercial that already aired and distracted from the current ones — that’s effective advertising.”
What is Your Game Plan for the Tokyo Games?
At a time when the world needs hope and unity more than ever, the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo present brands with a unique opportunity to use their platform, voice and creative to deliver powerful messaging that inspires the masses. Using memorable Olympic moments can help brands deliver these messages in a meaningful way.