Brands use digital to boost sponsorship

04 July 2012

NEW YORK: Major brand owners such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Visa are attempting to extract greater value from their sponsorship of the Olympic Games by making heightened use of digital media.

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks manufacturer, has found the typical TV viewer of the summer Olympics in mature markets like the US and Western Europe is 45 years old, while its target demographic is under 30 years old.

The firm has thus commissioned a song for the Games, and wants web and smartphone users to upload related videos to YouTube, which can be shared through its brand site and Facebook. It also invited thousands of young people to see the official video shoot via Twitter.

More than 3m clips have been posted thus far. "If it's just about us, that's not going to be the secret formula for long-term success," Joe Tripodi, Coke's chief marketing and commercial officer, told the Wall Street Journal.

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG group, has put social media at the heart of its "Thank You, Mom" campaign, showing how mothers support athletes, achieving 25m hits on YouTube. Its "momumentaries" have secured another 7m hits, and a Facebook app allows members to send their moms "thank yous".

"We would expect about a third to half of our impressions to be coming from digital," said Glenn Williams, external relations manager, US operations, at Procter & Gamble.

While Facebook was launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006, pre-dating the Beijing Olympics of 2008 and Vancouver Winter Olympics of 2010, they have since gained rapid traction.

"Many people are calling this the first digital Olympics. Clearly there was a lot of digital stuff going on in Vancouver, but I don't have to tell you that in just two years, the digital landscape has changed tremendously," Williams said.

For its part, Visa, the financial services specialist, has asked web users to submit "cheers" to Facebook as part of the "Go World" campaign, which was produced in conjunction with TBWA.

Antonio Lucio, its global chief marketing, strategy and corporate development officer for Visa, attended the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2012 for the first time this year, in a bid to leverage the latest digital insights.

"Like everybody else, we're all trying to figure out the social, mobile world and the impact of the convergence of technology in people's lives," he said. "I don't think that there are many successful models out there for either social or mobile or for the convergence of technology. Many of us have pockets of success."

This is not without risks, however. Samsung, the electronics expert, discovered this with the Genome Project, which mapped the links between Facebook members and current or former Olympic competitors, and saw 18 athletes sue the firm in April. Settlement talks are now in process.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, eMarketer, Forbes; additional content by Warc staff