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21.03.2024 // Octagon

How brands are winning at the Olympic Games

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games present a significant potential for brands. That's for sure. And while activating at a major event of this scale certainly brings a unique set of opportunities, it also holds some challenges for sponsors. The eyes of the world will not only be on the athletes competing for medals, but also on the partners and their activities. One thing is for sure though: The growing audience offers unparalleled benefits and opportunities to engage with fans around the world.

Here are four take aways by Octagon from four decades of working with brands to activate their partnerships efficiently:

Embrace being under the microscope

We all remember the role public discussions around diversity took during the last UEFA Euro of FIFA World Cup. Whether they like it or not, brands are naturally tied to the event they sponsor – and all topics associated with it. When the UEFA refused to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors in support of LGBTQ rights, fans expected partners to take a stand.Brands that understand this significance and tap into topics that are close to the consumers’ heart, can utilize the power of major events to their advantage:

  • Understand the event's significance and audience's values.
  • Take clear positions based on your brand values.
  • Address public concerns through meaningful action.

By proactively championing causes or initiatives that resonate with the ethos of the games, brands can significantly enhance their image and relevance among consumers. A prime example for this is the case of Coca Cola for Paris 2024: They have partnered with the association “Sport dans la ville” to integrate young kids and teenagers from deprived neighborhoods through sports. The initiative aligns well with the “Games Wide Open” ethos of the 2024 Olympics.

Avoiding a sea of sameness

In the lead-up to and during the Paris 2024 Olympics, brands will vie for every fan’s attention. Each brand wants to get their message across which leads to an overload of communication channels. Building long-term relationships with fans that go beyond the 2-3 weeks during the event, requires a well-crafted strategy and ongoing efforts.

Lasting attention requires an authentic – and crucially – unique story. Brands will need to ask themselves: What is the story only I can tell through this partnership? Has the story been told before? Why am I the brand to tell this story? When P&G first came out with their “Proud Supporters of Mums” campaign it delivered well on their core brand values and proposition.

Prepare for the unexpected

Sponsoring a major event like the Paris 2024 Olympics comes with its share of challenges. The sponsorship fee is extremely high which usually leaves little budget for the actual activation. Internal project management and deadlines very rarely align with deadlines set by the organizers. And non-sponsor brands might undermine partners with their ambush-marketing attempts.

Thinking on your feet and maintaining the ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances is crucial. Remember when Qatar banned the sale of all beer two days before the World Cup 2022 and the event’s sponsor Budweiser had to rethink their strategy under the highest time pressure? By pivoting to their much recognized “Bring home the Bud” campaign, Budweiser showed the ability to react at pace and remained relevant even if the general conditions changed.

Be ready for life-long learning

For long-term success, multi-channel campaigns are the ticket to success, but measuring ROI can be a tricky game. How do you know if your experiential on-site activities, digital media campaigns, or TV ads are truly winning hearts? It can be difficult for brands to attribute changes in brand perception or sales directly to the activities associated with their events.

The answer lies in well-defined objectives and clear, transparent and quantifiable metrics. Tracking repeatedly against the same KPIs and keeping good records of your achievements and failures through post event documentation for continued organizational learning, are the keys to long-term marketing victory. This is why long-standing major event partners like Mastercard at the Rugby World Cup continue to improve their partnerships cycle over cycle by challenging the status quo on each edition.


Octagon Germany
Nina Hammelehle (New Business Director)
E-Mail: nina.hammelehle@octagon.com
Tel.: +49 (0) 151 5820 4356
Web: octagon.com