Social Evolution: The Rise Of Real Time Marketing At The Olympics

Veronica_Watson_MacDonell_web101 Veronica Watson MacDonell, Consultant & Brand Builder

The London 2012 Games were referred to as the “Socialympics”, as in, the Games most influenced by the omnipresence of social media. Two years later, the 2014 Games in Sochi have come to a close and left us with an incredible case study on the rise of real time marketing, social media engagement and an inside look into the daily lives and experiences of our athletes through the digital world.

Social media democratizes the viewing experience and provides Olympic fans instant access to the Games and the athletes like never before. At home in Canada, I can follow Hayley Wickenheiser through the athlete’s village and catch every one of Mark McMorris’ runs in his pursuit for the podium in the palm of my hand. While this level of access is great for a fan, it makes it easy for non-sponsors of the Games to become a part of the experience without paying for the rights to do so.

Brands with no official ties to the Olympic movement can now talk about the Games on their social media channels and capitalize on the unfettered access they offer to endless storytelling opportunities. Is this unfair to those who paid for the rights to be associated with the Games? Maybe, but it also presents an opportunity for official sponsors to be even more creative and empowered to leverage the full extent of their Olympic rights across multiple channels. A sponsor can now connect with the consumer in real time in ways that were never possible without digital and social platforms. Mondelez, one of the newest members of the Canadian Olympic Team partner family, is doing just that.

The confectionary brand is using the digital and social space to bring their activation to life through two animated characters, Pride and Joy. These characters encompass the traits of a Canadian Olympic fan, they are patriotic, joyful and full of energy. Pride and Joy communicate with fans in real time through a brand specific Facebook pages (Cadbury Dairy Milk, OREO, Dentyne and Ritz Crackers), in-store activations, a downloadable app and integration into the CBC Olympics broadcast. On the off chance I am away from my TV during a gold medal run, Pride and Joy are there to keep me informed with real time updates directly to my phone – completely integrated into my fan experience.

On top of this multi-platform digital activation, Mondelez is donating $1 to the Canadian Olympic Foundation every time the app is downloaded, making an impact of up to $50,000 – allowing for an even more authentic consumer engagement experience. I am cheering on the athletes while contributing to their success.

At the end of the day, there is no stopping the impact of social media on sponsorship and non-sponsors will continue to step on the toes of official sponsors through these channels, but with thoughtful and strategic use of social media tools, sponsors can make a huge impact and drown out the noise created by the wannabes.