Five top Olympics marketing campaigns

If you are reading SmartCompany a little more bleary-eyed than usual because you have been up late watching the Olympics, you are not alone.

The number of Australians with their eyes trained on the television, scanning the internet and newspapers for the latest news and using Twitter or Facebook to engage with the London Olympics is a rich resource for marketing campaigns. Here’s our pick of the best Olympics marketing campaigns for London 2012.

1. Telstra’s hero messages

Telstra has been using “Hero Messages” at the Olympics for a few years now and is once again encouraging us to use its network and services to contact Olympic stars.

Telstra’s Olympics advertising campaign is based around Australia’s unofficial national sporting anthem Down Under. The ad doesn’t actually feature any Olympians, instead it shows Men At Work’s Colin Hay and a cast of thousands. People are pictured singing along to the song at the pub, at the football, at school and under Tower Bridge in London.

“The campaign has been designed to ignite patriotism among Australians and encourage them to support our athletes in London by sending a Telstra Hero Message,” said Mark Buckman, Telstra’s marketing chief, in a press release.

An unbranded version of the ad was played to the whole Olympic team just after Australia’s flag bearer was announced.

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2. Nike’s ambush marketing

With tight rules surrounding the use of the words “Olympics” and “London 2012” in order to protect Olympic sponsors, companies which are not sponsors are desperate to get involved in the Olympic buzz without paying sponsorship fees or fines for breaking the “brand police” rules.

Non-sponsor Nike has engaged in some spectacular ambush marketing of official sportswear sponsor Adidas with a campaign that encourages you, the athlete at any level, to “Find Your Greatness” and highlights athletes that, completely coincidentally, happen to be finding their greatness in places called London.

It shows signs of places named London from around the world, supported by the message: “Greatness isn’t reserved for the chosen few in one special city; it can also be found London, Ohio, and London, Norway, and East London, South Africa, and Little London, Jamaica, and Small London, Nigeria and the London Hotel and London Road.”

The Nike ad shows weekend sportspeople, children and amateurs participating in different sports with the message that greatness isn’t reserved for the chosen few and the bright lights of the Olympics. “The truth is greatness is for all of us,” the voiceover says. “Greatness is not in one special place and it is not in one special person. Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.”

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3. Commonwealth Bank’s social media campaign

London 2012 is being touted as the “social media Olympics”. After all, Twitter and Facebook were not half as dominant four years ago when the Olympics were in Beijing. The Commonwealth Bank has tried to take advantage of this trend by working social media into its marketing campaign.

The marketing is based on the bank’s new “Change Can’t to Can” campaign and the Commonwealth Bank kicked off its Olympics focus in June with a social sweepstakes campaign on Facebook to generate excitement around the Olympic Games.

Users were asked to submit their “Can” stories to help inspire athletes. Those who submitted stories were eligible to win daily prizes from the bank.

The campaign evolved over time and provided users with reasons to continually check back and engage with the brand while also using multiple social channels to promote the content.

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