By Mollye Rhea, President and Founder, For Momentum
If you have been suffering from Summer Olympics withdrawals since the closing ceremonies were broadcast live from Rio on Sunday night, you’re in luck. While the games of the 31st Olympiad have ended, I have one more medal ceremony for you.
Four years ago, when London hosted the Summer Olympics, our friend Joe Waters judged his winners of the best Olympics-themed cause campaigns. Today, I take the torch from Joe and award gold, silver and bronze to 2016’s medal-worthy Olympics ad campaigns.
Gold Medal – DICK’S Sporting Goods – “Gold in US”
My choice of gold medalist earns high marks in three major areas of cause marketing: fundraising, awareness raising and employee engagement. The “Gold in US” campaign from DICK’S Sporting Goods plays off the fact that all human beings have a minuscule amount of gold in their bodies. The message is that it’s up to athletes to unearth the gold within them.
DICK’S has demonstrated its commitment to mining that gold by pledging $1,000 for every medal that Team USA wins in the Olympic and Paralympic Games (coming up in early September). Beneficiaries of the funds include USA Diving, Fencers Club, the United States Association of Blind Athletes and Ability 360. In addition to the television ads, the retailer is raising awareness and activating fans of the games via social media with the #goldinus hashtag. But the showstoppers are the ads featuring members of DICK’S The Contenders program, such as Olympics volleyball player Kerri Ann Walsh. Through The Contenders, DICK’S has provided flexible work schedules and competitive pay to more than 200 Olympians, Paralympians and Team USA hopefuls. I can’t imagine a better way to honor your brand and build a base of loyal, engaged employees.
Silver Medal – Always #LikeaGirl – “Keep Playing”
My silver and bronze medalists are both terrific examples of corporate social marketing. Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman launched the field of social marketing more than 40 years ago. The term applies to any campaign that uses marketing techniques to influence a particular public behavior. In the case of the Always #LikeaGirl campaign, this change is removing the negative connotation associated with performing any activity “like a girl.” The original spot debuted in 2014, becoming a viral video sensation and winning numerous industry awards, including the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial.
This year’s “Keep Playing” commercial adds a new twist to the #LikeaGirl social experiment. In the new Olympics-themed commercial, girl athletes share their stories of being teased for playing sports. A fullscreen tells us that girls’ confidence plummets at puberty and that half of most girls quit sports around the same time in their lives. Always has perfectly positioned itself as a champion for the cause of girls’ value and self-esteem, this time by delivering the message that girls need to keep playing sports.
Bronze Medal – Coca-Cola Company – “Together Is Beautiful”
In keeping with the Olympics theme of bringing the world together through the love of sport, several ads showcased diversity and inclusiveness. Coca-Cola, a global brand that has been sponsoring the Olympics since 1928, launched its “Together Is Beautiful” ad during the Opening Ceremonies this year. The commercial features video of people of different races, ages and ethnic backgrounds in different locations as you hear various performers sing “America the Beautiful” in different languages.
Honorable mentions in the area of diversity and inclusiveness go to:
MINI USA, the makers of a little car that defies labels, salutes Olympic athletes who refused to let labels hold them back from pursuing their dreams. The #DefyLabels TV spot features different U.S. athletes saying a negative label. At the close of the commercial, Serena Williams says that the only label that matters is “Olympian.”
Apple‘s “The Human Family” commercial showcases a voiceover from the late poet Maya Angelou. You hear Angelou read from her poem “The Human Family” while photos of diverse faces from all over the globe appear on the screen. Only the captions clue us in to the fact that the impressive images were shot on iPhones.
The good news for advertisers—and for the causes they promote—is that TV viewers rarely recorded the Summer Olympics or fast-forwarded through the commercials. Research from iSpot.tv shows that most viewers preferred to watch the games live instead of recording and watching them later on their DVRs. They also set aside their remotes and rarely skipped the commercials. To learn more, read Ad Age’s List of the Olympics Ads Best at Keeping Viewers’ Attention. When the world is watching, cause marketing is a terrific way to bond with your audience of consumers and employees and promote your brand’s commitment to giving.
For other media takes on the best ad campaigns from the 2016 Summer Olympics, check out these sites:
USA TODAY‘s Rio Ad Meter Bracket – you have until August 24th to vote for the winner of USA TODAY‘s NCAA tournament-style bracket of Olympics ads. The finalists are commercials for Toyota and Hershey’s. You can view the brackets and all 32 of the commercials that USA TODAY selected as best commercials on the site.
Broadcasting & Cable says Olympic Games Delivered 18.7B TV Ad Impressions – insurance company commercials created the most online reactions, followed by apparel makers and electronics companies.
Olympic Games TV Ad Spending in the U.S. from 2002-2016 (Infographic) – Kantar Media, via the American Marketing Association (AMA), breaks down ad spending and cost per 30-second ad since the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.