We're knee deep in 2016 Summer Games coverage, and billions of eyes from around the world are watching athletes attempt to break records and bring home the gold. Amidst the triumphs (Team Singapore scoring their first ever gold medal!) and turmoil (Team Russia), there has been the mainstay of marketing by key sponsors. The competitive spectacle is unique for marketers in that it is one of, if not the, only truly global event. This is an incredible opportunity for brands to flex their marketing muscle and work with the stories and results that such an event generates.
A few companies jumped on the Games bandwagon long before it began, leveraging its popularity for their own campaigns. While some were slow out of the blocks, and spent the last two weeks catching-up. At WE Communications, we’ve been monitoring the brands’ performance and how they fare against one another using our own proprietary Brand Agility Index. And I must say, it’s been very interesting!
WE’s Brand Agility Index is compiled by ranking brands out of five in areas such as a campaign’s scalability, relevance, the speed in which it responds on social media, engagement, originality, personalisation and sentiment. WE achieves this by analysing all conversations and engagement levels from brands across news, blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and comments on YouTube during the tournament. In APAC specifically, we’re looking at 28 sponsors from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and India. We are monitoring a range of sponsors, such as Adidas, Toyota, Samsung, Singapore Airlines and Edelweiss.
While we haven’t found a clear winner just yet, here are some of my observations so far:
Lots and lots of it! The digital sphere in APAC has HUGE opportunities for brands to engage more actively with their audiences, especially at such a global event as the Summer Games. Our research showed that many team sponsors missed out on key moments to insert themselves into the conversation. Samsung seems to be the only brand that has pushed any branded content out in the region plus they clearly seeded the new Note 7 to relevant athletes so that they were seen with them ahead of the competitions.
2. Great Start – not so great finish
Some very strong contenders, but their efforts dropped drastically by the time we entered into week two. Tata Salt, a key sponsor of Team India (interesting and unobvious choice), started off strong focusing on their team’s performance with tailored posts and celebrations pushed out with regularity over the opening events. But these activities deteriorated extremely with only a handful of posts seen shouting out to Team India athletes with no real shift in its content approach week after week. In social media a week is much longer than it seems, so brands should have back up plans for when content and ideas start running thin.
Brands need to get creative. There’s a lot of noise out there, and brands need to find a way to cut through it. While Toyota hasn't seen much engagement in terms of volume, what they have pushed out is good. The advert with the skydivers is seeing a lot of good traction and commentary and the brand has done well to depict the Games’ spirit without directly referencing the Games (due to USIOC restrictions).
4. Turn to the fans
Maybe this is the result of strict IOC rules all brands need to adhere to, but we are seeing very little engagement around user generated content, and yet it is these human stories that regularly drive higher engagement. Over the past week, Herbalife received a fair amount of attention following their #IamIndia campaign. Their hashtag is being used in many fan owned celebratory social posts, where their hashtag appears to be uniting people across the nation. Brands should look at leveraging fans love and passion for sport to aid their own narrative, and to also help position the brand as a facilitator.
Amid all of the activity, it is encouraging to see an increasing number of Asian brands investing in the event and ultimately becoming more attentive to the power of branding in capturing consumer attention. This is a positive trend that I expect will start to push boardrooms in Asia to invest more aggressively in brand building to help differentiate themselves in a more competitive global market place.
Read our next blog post to see which APAC brand has been crowned our winner of the Summer Games!