Every four years the biggest consumer brands on the planet invest vast sums of money to connect their brand to the marketing juggernaut that is the Olympic Games. This time there’s no surprise to see brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Procter and Gamble all shelling out billions collectively on sponsorships and ads during the Games. What is different this time around is that a significant part of this spend is being focussed on social and mobile marketing activities.

That’s not to say that TV isn’t playing an important role, but you can see a dynamic shift in the whole raison d’être of a TV ad. No longer about simply building brand recall and awareness, TV ads are beginning to be put to use as teasers or trailers for the main event which is now deep digital experiences and engagement.

‘Move to the Beat’

Take a look at Coca-Cola. They are running their largest digital campaign ever with mobile playing a key role in more than 50 countries around the globe. Their ‘Move to the Beat’ campaign targets teens with a Mark Ronson/Katy B concoction ‘Anywhere in the World’ which will serve as an anthem for Coca-Cola’s Olympic sponsorship efforts.

Online, teens across the world are invited to create individualized beats by mixing their personal musical preference and their sporting interest with their online social media footprint. Once created, the personalised experience can be uploaded to the website to create an evolving music collaboration.

The mobile experience showcase centrepiece is the free My Beatmaker app for smartphones. This app uses technology and lets you create your beat through the motion of your phone. I’m not quite sure how it works but the technology detects the movements of the phone and transforms them into unique sounds. It’s a really innovative idea though I have heard more than one or two grumbles that it doesn’t work quite as well as planned.

There are also SMS alerts about the campaign that include facts about the athletes and artists and Games related quizzes, QR codes, and links within the brand’s desktop and mobile experience for the Olympics.

Visa Go World

Meanwhile, Visa’s campaign for the Games of the XXX Olympiad will be the largest in the company’s 25 years’ association with the Games. For Visa social media is playing a much bigger role than ever before with its cheer platform. The Visa campaign kicked off in May and will run in 70 countries. The idea here is that fans can lead the cheer squad and send best wishes to their favourite Olympians by posting a text messages, comments, photographs and video clips on the Visa Facebook page. Fans can also submit ‘one-click cheers’ online or via mobile on social media including the Visa YouTube channel. Plus there’s @teamvisa on Twitter, using the hashtag #VisaGoWorld for brief messages.

The online cheers, submitted by fans, will be used for at least one congratulatory ad that will run during the Games in July and August.

Visa and Samsung pair up

In terms of being a truly mobile Games, Visa and Samsung are pairing up in their quest for team gold. While Samsung’s new Galaxy S III has been anointed as the official London 2012 Olympic Games smartphone, they’ve joined forces with Visa to bundle their payWave Android application in partnership with Lloyds TSB to offer near-field communication (NFC) payments to athletes while they are competing in the city. While the contactless payment mechanism won’t be universally acceptable, there’ll be approximately 140,000 contactless terminals in the UK for this Olympic trial, so there will be enough retailers and service providers set up in the city to accept the mobile payments to make a great test case. Payments under £20 (approximately AUS$32) won’t need a passcode, and users will also be able to check their balance and purchase history from the app. While NFC mobile payments have been popular for years in places such as Japan and South Korea, the technology has been slower to take off in the US and Europe, so the whole aim of this test is, of course, to drive awareness of and demand for contactless payments in both the UK and the world stage.

Let the Games begin

While more than four billion people are expected to watch the 2012 Olympic Games in London, athletes and fans will use social media to post, blog and tweet their experiences like never before. More data, more coverage and more devices mean those attending in person will have access a whole new experience and one that’s readily available to share with those who can’t be there to see the live action.

 

Simon van Wyk
BY Simon van Wyk ON 19 June 2012
Founder, HotHouse Interactive. Tweet him @Hot_House