Which Brand Got the Social Gold at the Olympics?


In the four years since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Facebook has grown from 100 million users to close to a billion —what a difference four years makes. So, how have the Olympic sponsoring brands taken advantage of this immense new global audience?  In 2008, there were two ‘levels’ of brand sponsors at the Olympics — the eleven TOP Partners (Acer, Atos, Coca-Cola, Dow, GE, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung and Visa) who are reported to have paid an average of $100 million each to buy the world-wide marketing rights over a four-year cycle, covering a Winter and a Summer games. And, about 40 other sponsors spending from around $15M to $60M each for more limited rights. (You can view a full list of those sponsors, and their contributions, here.)

Fast forward to 2012 and let’s take a look at the three TOP Partners who did the best job of creating buzz with their Facebook marketing efforts. These are the Michael Phelps and Usain Bolts of Facebook marketers:



Samsung has built a thoroughly social and shareable “Send a Postcard” App on Facebook that lets you “take part in everyone’s Olympic games.” A very clever App – free until August 31st – 2012, which lets fans send actual postcards with an Olympic theme, both virtually and in the old-fashioned mailbox. Results are shared in a variety of ways on Facebook. The equally fantastic “Take Part 2012” seriously makes me wish I had a Samsung Galaxy phone, and encourages Samsung users to download a mobile App and play games against other Samsung users. The Facebook app has a great leaderboard for individuals as well as teams shared on Facebook and also offers enticements to all kinds of other mobile Apps and games. A winning combination of social Apps that is completely “on” Olympic message.


P&G have got Moms all over tearing up with their “Thank you, Mom” TV commercials series, a marketing push that has its very own Facebook presence. Their “Raising an Olympian” App shares moving stories of Moms raising Olympians and is tied into a “Thank You Mom” app that allows fans to share thanks with their Moms on Facebook. A perfect tie-in to a brand with products (Tide, Downy, Brawn, Pampers et al) that ally closely with Moms.  Solid, on message, and well implemented.



According to a GE press release, GE is the “exclusive provider of a wide range of innovative products and services that are integral to a successful Games.” Intriguing. Their official Facebook page has decided on a somewhat tangential, albeit laudable, take however — how Olympians inspire us to get healthy. GE offers a Facebook App called HealthyShare (tagline “Friends are good for your health”). They present challenges from various athletes and let you log your own progress to health via a points system. A good try that has nice “gamification” elements, and ties GE to healthy, sporty messages. My only criticism would be that the campaign doesn’t really connect to the actual story of GE — a company thoroughly and positively aligned with science, technology and innovation.

So, what separated Samsung, P&G, and GE from the pack? Based on our review of the eleven, sponsoring mega-brands on Facebook, we believe are the three “best practices” that separate the also-rans from engaging medal-winning social implementations:

●     Facebook apps must be engaging and fun, but simple and easy to use. To engage users, our gold and bronze medal winners (Samsung  and GE) incorporated a “gamification” element in their apps – they’re smart enough to know that many of the people watching the Olympics have a competitive streak of their own. Our silver recipient, P&G, relied on the tried and true “tugging at our heartstrings” to engage the emotion of fans.

●     Keep fans on Facebook wherever possible – don’t send them off to microsites. All three of our medal winners recognized that the best way to take advantage of the “viral” nature of Facebook is to…keep ones fans on Facebook! Moreover, savvy brands create opportunities at all the right moments to encourage their fans to share with friends on Facebook in order to expand reach.

●     Find meaningful ways to connect your brand’s essence with the Olympics. Sure, this seems like a no-brainer. But, clearly, among the eleven TOP sponsors we looked at, some have done a better job of tying back the Olympics to their brands.



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