5 brands that won (or lost) the 2016 Olympics

Tyler Tullis
Senior Account Executive

“EVENTFUL” IS PROBABLY THE WORD that best sums up this year’s Summer Games (sweet pun, huh)

It’s the first to feature a team of refugees.

The games have had to compete with controversy around the host city which in turn has led to controversy with athletes themselves.

Onlookers can even view the games in virtual reality. Whoa.

There’s always attention to the games, but with so much drama this year, which brands communicated a strong message? Take a look at our picks, and notice how every campaign name is a hashtag… Interesting.

Chobani — Took Gold

Chobani’s #NoBadStuff campaign hits all the beats that an Olympic campaign requires. It showcases athletes with a message reflective of their brand–healthy living, clean ingredients and positive attitude.

The brand alignment is so strong and authentic that this campaign will live on long past the games are over. The tone is closer to something you’d expect from Nike, and the multichannel rollout across TV, social media and in-store marketing makes for a fantastically integrated campaign.

Nike and Under Armor — Took Gold

Both of these brands do a fantastic job balancing their roster of athletes, and manifesting their brands through them.

Through Michael Phelps and others (a compelling spot above), Under Armor is laying claim to the powerful notion that what we do when no one is watching drives success. A sentiment that extends to all of us, not just athletes. Under Armor takes a darker approach in tone and visuals than Nike to differentiate, but the staying power of “Just Do It” remains as iconic and relevant as the games themselves. The latter brand is slaying social media this year, using rich media (video, mostly) to tell expanded stories of their athletes as a series with relatable themes.

IOC — No Medal This Year

On the flip side, one brand took a real hit this year–the IOC itself. Their lack of effort to address doping scandals from Russia and specific athletes, along with their response to political and safety issues in the host city, painted them as ineffectual and possibly even corrupt (shades of the FIFA scandals earlier this year).

What can the IOC do to turn things around in by the next Olympics? They’ll need to frequently and consistently communicate the steps they are taking to address doping, including the formation of any investigative committees, establishing new testing rigor, and taking bold action to strip medals or penalize countries who break the rules. Addressing problems begins with public acknowledgement and commitment to change. Then comes a resounding recap of the changes implemented before the next games begin.

And maybe the IOC can look at hosting the games in a single location for sustainability’s sake… but that’s another blog post entirely.

What can the IOC do to turn things around in by the next Olympics? They’ll need to frequently and consistently communicate the steps they are taking to address doping, including the formation of any investigative committees, establishing new testing rigor, and taking bold action to strip medals or penalize countries who break the rules. Addressing problems begins with public acknowledgement and commitment to change. Then comes a resounding recap of the changes implemented before the next games begin.

And maybe the IOC can look at hosting the games in a single location for sustainability’s sake… but that’s another blog post entirely.

Dove — Took Gold

Dove continues its female (and male!) empowering brand evolution with this year’s #MyBeautyMySay campaign. The campaign isn’t focused on the Olympics, but they’ve produced several spots and a fantastic social media integration with athletes and their stories about overcoming perceptions based on beauty and ability.

By intentionally blurring women’s faces in Twitter graphics along with hurtful quotes, the campaign powerfully illustrates that negative stereotypes and positive reinforcements relate to every woman.

Like all the best Olympics campaigns, Dove employs a universal message and a story that matters. That’s the only message that would succeed on this big of a stage.

Team USA — Took Literal Gold, but Communications Silver

This year’s medal count has me chanting “U – S – A” with the rest of my friends, but scandals don’t reflect well on any brand. With the US Olympic Committee Chief having to apologize for athlete behavior, along with doping allegations tarnishing our “good guy” record, it’s made for a distracting few weeks. This amid increasing international grief that the nation’s wealth plays an unfair role in competitiveness. But the social media presence and varied campaign integration the US Team wields focuses the conversation amid distraction, and for that, they should be commended.

What other brands do you think have risen to the top or taken hits during the 2016 games?

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