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August 2, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

Oh, the world of Olympics advertising

In 2008 when the last Olympics were held in Beijing, I was young, naiive, and positive I had a future in journalism.

Wow, I’m glad that changed. Not only would I be absent from London for the 2012 Olympics (unimaginable), but I’d also miss out on analyzing all the marketing initiatives that coincide with the Olympics season. With the combination of exciting sport and interesting ads, it’s like Superbowl Sunday spread over two weeks (but two weeks of the 2012 Pats/Giants Superbowl sound like an absolute nightmare).

Like all sporting-event-focused ads, more companies miss than hit. I stood at the intersection of Queen’s Gate and Cromwell just trying to understand how a language learning institute’s slogan: “Ready, set, LEARN FRENCH” was effective whatsoever. I fail to see the link between a runner at the starting blocks and … learning French. It’s smart that the institute attempted connecting with such a timely, important event. But maybe something a little more relevant, along the lines of connecting with the world at possibly the largest global event ever, the Olympics.

But it’s not all bad news over here on the Olympics marketing front. I’ve found two, in my opinion, fantastic marcomm initiatives that relate effectively to the Olympics.

1) Joseph’s storefront display in Chelsea perfectly draws in pedestrians walking by using the scene of an Olympic pool with athletes ready to compete. Not only does it build on the excitement surrounding the Olympics, especially with Great Britain’s colors on main display, but it also advertises the designer’s trendy swimsuits on all the athletes. Step one: draw them in via Olympics. Step two: once they’re looking, strategically have merchandise in place to entice purchasing. Joseph definitely deserves a gold for this one.

Olympics storefront display at Joseph in Chelsea, London

Olympics storefront display at Joseph in Chelsea, London

2) My second favorite ad campaign I’ve seen so far is from BT, a broadband, TV and home phone service. BT smartly sponsored, among other things, the Hyde Park venue which displays the Olympics games to the public for free on four large, movie-size screen TVs in the middle of the park. I realized immediately how perfect the picture on these screens could be, and it made me feel almost like I was at the games. Then I looked to the left and right of the screen, and saw the big BT plastered there. The connection? If I want to watch sports at this high quality (who doesn’t), then I better call up BT. Yet again, another winner — and after watching Murray win on the Hyde Park BT screen yesterday, I’d say it definitely deserves a gold, too.

Andy Murray on BT Live screen in Hyde Park

Andy Murray on BT Live screen in Hyde Park


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