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Olympic Fever

The quest for a spot in the Olympics starts at a very young age and culminates into one defining moment after years of practice, determination and endurance. We watch fervently as each athlete takes the world stage against the best athletes from countries all over the world, and find ourselves swamped by advertising. Everywhere you look there are product placements, billboards, any surface that can support a logo, as well as commercials. Lots and lots of commercials.

The games are a foot in London, and so are the advertisers
The Washington Times

It’s interesting to note the Olympics have a long history of advertising, with the first revenue generated at the 1896 Olympics in Athens. Companies purchased advertising in the souvenir program to help offset the costs of the games and a newly refurbished stadium. In 1912, Swedish companies were able to gain the sole right to take photos and sell Olympic memorabilia at the games. The first signage was introduced in 1924 for the Paris games and Coca Cola began its long partnership with the Olympics in 1928 during the Amsterdam games. In 1960, the games were broadcasted live for the first time to 18 European countries, United States, Canada and Japan. By 1994, the Lillehammer games broke records with licensing generating three times the expected revenue. And it just grew from there with today’s television commercials pulling in a mind blowing $1 billion in national and digital advertising (the average prime-time 30-second spot going for $725,000) on NBC Universal.

And what are we seeing with that record amount of ad spend? Commercials like the Visa ad which inspires awe amongst armchair spectators. The advertising is more brand awareness with millions of eyeballs able to take in vivid imagery and the melodic voice of Morgan Freeman, long time spokesperson for the credit card company.

Take Coca Cola's "Move to the Beat of London 2012" commercial with dance beats, a DJ and athletes performing on what looks like fashion cat walks meant to inspire thirst for a brand who has supported the games for over 80 years!

Omega watch maker taps into the London music scene of the past with iconic rock band the Rolling Stones singing "Start Me Up" while slipping frames of athletes readying for competition. It is probably one of the better ads with effective use of imagery, music and relevance to its product (the official time keeper).

Proctor and Gamble, touching on the theme of mother's dedication to young athletes all the way up to Olympic participant in "Thank You Mom" is touching to say the least. Tell me you didn't give mom a call after seeing it. P&G always makes sure to leave its mark at the games with a "house" for athletes (used in previous games) and their families that includes doing the families' laundry, offer beauty services and has a nice man cave for viewing broadcasts. Janet Fletcher, P&G Marketing Director, said they were able to gain $100M in incremental sales during the Vancouver games and expects London to be increase that number by four times.

We definitely have Olympic fever as spectators, and the advertising and marketing industry are hoping to pull that enthusiasm into real dollar purchases. Imagine what they will spend for Rio to get us motivated.


Crupi, A. (July 25, 2012 Adweek). Obama Stimulates NBC’s Olympic Haul.

Claman, L. (August 6, 2012 Fox Sports). Sponsor Comes Through for Families.


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