Content marketing inspiration for the Olympic season

This year’s Olympics is forecast to be the most watched online ever, and also the second “social media Olympics” (after the London 2012 Games marked the exponential growth of this channel).

A total of 7 million Tweets have been sent out since the lead-up to the Opening Ceremony. The stakes are high and brands are eager to jump in. Not sure how to start, or need inspiration? 


Content hub

Back during the London Olympics, Innocent – the fruit drinks company – made the most out of its official smooth and juice status for the Games.

In its dedicated section for the event, Innocent produced the right mix of light-hearted, humorous and informative content, including the Games history.


Source: Innocent Drinks
Source: Innocent Drinks

But that’s not to say you have to have direct ties with the Olympics to create content. In fact, the Rio Olympics is the “first live sporting event that has actually sanctioned the production of content from non-sponsors.”


Interactive content and games

This year, Canada’s CBC has produced a series of interactive content to educate and inspire a younger audience. For marketers, the takeaway here is to think about the different content formats that can result in high engagement.

Highly eye-catching elements also help; the CBC’s site seems to have it all: infographics, videos, cartoons etc. If you want to support your home country, showing medal stats is a good idea.


Source: Kids CBC
Source: Kids CBC


Competition and giveaway

Despite criticism for similar campaigns in the past, McDonald’s implemented a “Win when USA Wins Gold” in the 2012 Olympics.

Having learned the lesson, the fast food chain wanted to reward healthy eating while celebrating the Olympics spirit.

If you want to create some buzz around this idea, you can pick a sport (or medal colour) and offer special deals and discounts when your country wins. This can work if your business is somehow relevant to a particular sport, or you want to control your promotional spending.



Consumer products brand P&G has launched the “Thank You, Mom” campaign, following its success with the 2012 “Proud Sponsors of Moms” campaign.

Experts have praised the brand for having the best recurring Olympics strategy, as well as the ability to “newsjack” while plucking heartstrings.

With video as the content format, P&G took a horizontal approach (spanning across time), not vertical like Innocent or Kids CBC above (spanning across formats and topics for one season only).

If you want to create emotional content, keep in mind that “the smartest will hitch to the stories of athletes” or real people.


Partnering with content producers

NBC has a big budget to get BuzzFeed to produce special 2016 Olympics features, which will be shared all over social media. But don’t be discouraged, the takeaways are:

  • Tailor content to specific platforms/channels as demographics vary. NBC’s 2016 Olympics strategy has become much more versatile to attract a wider audience.
  • Focus on “snackable” content if you want to target a millennial audience.

  • Consider branded content or native advertising: are there mutual benefits between you and a publisher?

A word of caution

Be careful on social media during the official blackout period, which ends on August 24. There are certain Olympics’ trademarked words or phrases to avoid, among other activities.