How do Marketers Prepare for the Olympics?

Get ready to explore Olympic marketing as the games approach! From the Summer to the Winter Olympics, each event offers marketers a global stage. Let's dive in!

June 4, 2024

The Olympics are approaching soon, and it's a good opportunity to learn about Olympic marketing strategy and the world of global sportsmanship. The Summer Games are very exciting, the Winter Olympics have cold challenges, and the Youth Olympics show off young talent." Each presents a unique opportunity for marketers to showcase their brands on one of the grandest stages in the world.

Ready to race through what it takes to gear up for Olympic-sized marketing? Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Olympics

Sports hold a pivotal place in the lives of people worldwide, whether they're participants or enthusiastic supporters. Particularly in Western countries, sports are a significant slice of the media pie.

Today, sports are not just about entertainment or lifestyle; they represent a robust business opportunity. To appreciate the scale of the opportunity, let's first jog through a brief history of the Olympic Games.

The Olympics has vaulted into a global phenomenon since its modest beginnings in Olympia as a series of competitions among neighboring cities. Today, we have the Summer Olympics, showcasing everything from swimming to gymnastics, and the Winter Olympics, where athletes dazzle audiences in skiing and figure skating. And, the Youth Olympics, which spotlight the up-and-coming stars in the sporting world.

The global reach? Staggering. The 2016 Rio Olympics alone attracted over half the world’s population in viewership, and thanks to platforms like TikTok, athletes are now connecting with their audience year-round. This continuous exposure provides a juicy slice of marketing potential for brands, enabling sponsorships to flourish outside the traditional two-week window of the Games.

The Importance of Olympics Marketing

The biggest advantage of marketing during the Olympics is the chance to connect with a truly global audience. The Olympics are like the Super Bowl but on a massive international scale. Research consistently ranks them as one of the most-watched sporting events worldwide, attracting billions of viewers.

This means that there are many potential customers for brands. Official Olympic sponsors such as AirBnB, Bridgestone, and Coca Cola are taking advantage of this opportunity.

Take the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics for example. Nearly a quarter of a billion people in the US alone tuned in, watching on TV or online.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics went even further, reaching over 3 billion viewers on traditional television. But that's not all! 28 billion people interacted with the Games on websites connected to Olympic broadcasters. This gave a great opportunity to advertisers to reach a large audience.

This means a well-crafted marketing campaign during the Olympics has the potential to reach a staggering number of people from all corners of the globe, across diverse cultures and demographics. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is already upping their game with a new campaign before we even see the opening ceremony. Worldwide exposure like this is nearly impossible to achieve through any other marketing channel.

Preparing for the Olympics: Key Factors to Consider

Market Research

Knowing your audience is critical. Who are they? Passionate sports fans, casual viewers, or athlete family supporters? Each segment requires tailored messaging for large scale, targeted audiences and maximum impact.

Millions globally tune into the Olympics from every demographic. For example, during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, about 54% of 18- to 29-year-olds and over 50% of older demographics were expected to watch the Games.

This event provides a unique chance to engage with a diverse audience range simultaneously, making inclusivity essential in your approach.

Aligning with Olympic Values

The Olympics are more than just sporting competitions; they embody core values like excellence, teamwork, fair play, and perseverance. Aligning your marketing strategy with these values allows you to leverage the positive associations viewers have with the Games. It's about showcasing how your brand aligns with these ideals, fostering a sense of shared purpose and trust with your audience. Team USA’s branding strategies for Paris 2024 are shaping up to be particularly innovative

Building Partnerships

Partnerships and sponsorships can be a powerful tool for Olympic marketing. Partnering with athletes, teams, or even specific events allows your brand to bask in the reflected glory of these Olympic heroes and competitions.

Imagine your logo prominently displayed on an athlete's uniform or featured during a high-profile event. This kind of association creates brand recognition and establishes credibility among viewers. These partnerships can also extend beyond the games, leveraging athletes' stories and training routines on social media to keep the momentum going year-round.

Cultural Sensitivity

The Olympics are a global event, and the host country plays a vital role. Marketers must be culturally sensitive to ensure their campaigns resonate with local audiences. This might involve adapting visuals, tailoring messaging to local customs, and considering language variations. A campaign that thrives in one nation might fall flat in another if cultural nuances aren't taken into consideration.

Leveraging Digital Platforms

With the rise of digital media, the game has changed. Brands now have the chance to engage in real-time marketing, creating opportunities for interactive campaigns and fan-generated content.

Additionally, exploring innovative digital tools can further enhance your campaign. Imagine using augmented reality to give viewers a virtual tour of Olympic venues or creating interactive polls to gauge audience sentiment. By embracing digital platforms effectively, brands can maximize their visibility and connect with viewers globally.

Case Study: Successful Olympics Marketing Campaigns

Nike’s Unlimited Campaign (2016 Rio Olympics) 

Nike's "Unlimited" campaign at the 2016 Rio Olympics wasn't just about gold medals. It was all about celebrating the never-give-up spirit of athletes everywhere. We saw children with dreams as big as mountains, Paralympic athletes crushing limitations, and even veterans pushing themselves further than ever before.

The message? Humans can do amazing things, no matter what. This campaign wasn't just a pep talk for the athletes – it fired viewers up too, reminding everyone to chase those crazy dreams they might have tucked away.

Coca-Cola’s “Move to the Beat” (2012 London Olympics) 

Coca-Cola combined the universal languages of music and sport to engage the youth demographic. This campaign was more than just an Olympic advertisement. It included famous music artists and interactive features that got people involved on different platforms. It really connected with a worldwide audience who are tech-savvy with the sponsor of the games.

Procter & Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” (Various Olympics) 

Procter & Gamble's (P&G) "Thank You, Mom" campaign resonated deeply with audiences during the Olympics from 2010 to 2018. Each commercial showcased the heartwarming stories of athletes, highlighting their mother’s unwavering support and sacrifices.

As P&G's agency noted, the campaign's power stemmed from its emotional connection. While P&G's products may not directly enhance athletic performance, every Olympian shares a special bond with their mother – a bond the campaign celebrated by focusing on the mothers who helped their children achieve greatness. This shift in focus proved highly effective.


As we loop back to the finish line of our Olympic marketing marathon, it’s clear that the keys to victory are strategic preparation. By understanding the global stage and creating a campaign that resonates with both the values of the Olympics and the diverse audiences tuned in, a marketing campaign can take home the gold. 

Ready to go for gold in Olympic marketing? Reach out to us and let's craft a champion-level strategy together.

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