Think BR: An unavoidably integrated Olympics

Matt Pye, managing director, Cheil UK
Matt Pye, managing director, Cheil UK

The really successful brands at the Olympics were the ones who delivered truly integrated campaigns, writes Matt Pye, managing director, Cheil UK.

In the immediate aftermath of the London 2012 Olympics, it was gratifying to note that more than one source handed Samsung the gold medal for most effective sponsor cut through during the Games, not least because I work for the agency behind much of the advertising and activation around Samsung’s campaign.

But over and above the admittedly warm glow that came from such acknowledgement, there is a very pragmatic realisation that for advertisers, this Olympics was a game-changer at a subtle but fundamental level.

Not only was this the first digital and social Olympics, but it was arguably the first where the 30-second television spot was relatively moot.

It’s now common knowledge that more than half the population in Europe watch television with another device at hand - the multiscreening effect - causing further fragmentation of the advertising message.

At the 2012 Olympics, this was exacerbated further by the fact that the Games were aired on the BBC.

For most households, any other channel was sacrificed for wall to wall Beeb, with the obvious impact on television advertising.

So with less lean-back advertising, what really got cut-through at these Games?

For Samsung, the key to success was integration. As well as the plaudits, the first set of figures show that the push delivered results too:

  • More than 15,500 nominations for torch bearers were collected via Samsung channels.
  • Over 700,000 Samsung-branded Union Jack flags and over 1million ‘bam bam’ sticks were handed out as keepsakes to some of the 13 million people who lined the streets to watch the Torch Relay and other events.
  • Even ahead of the Olympics, Samsung’s ‘PIN’ store in Westfield was consistently one of the top performing Phones4U stores in London around the time of the successful, and high-profile launch of the Galaxy SIII, in part because of the Olympic ticket giveaway. 
  • Additionally, 33,000 free calls were made in Samsung’s mobile shop in the Olympic Athletes’ Village, by athletes calling home.

In my book, the undoubted winners were those brands that executed unavoidably integrated campaigns; those that extended the personal interaction beyond the television spot to engage consumers across all appropriate channels.

And it was also those brands which were brave enough, and sometimes fast enough, to turn around a cute idea that was bang on brand message.

Many column inches have already been devoted to the former; those brands, like Samsung, that truly activated their sponsorship. Here’s my selection of the latter:

No doubt there are many more examples of marketing creativity at its wittiest best - and hopefully more to come as the Paralympics kicks off next week.

Matt Pye, managing director, Cheil UK

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