Brand performance during the Olympics…who took the gold?

Wondering which brands have stood out during the Beijing Olympics, MiC turned to some experts to see how they judged the performances.

As the Olympics are winding down and Canada is finally racking up some medals, MiC thought it would be interesting to discuss which brands have stood out from the pack.

It seems opinions are varied. ‘I think the winner is nobody and the loser is the viewer, who has to watch the same commercials over and over again,’ says Michael Walker, president, the Walker Media Group.

‘Bell is doing the best job in terms of activating their Olympic sponsorship,’ says Cynthia Fleming, EVP, Carat Canada. ‘They have effectively linked brand and product communication objectives with their Olympic association. In addition, they have executed beautifully – the Bell HDTV spot is my favourite of the Olympics.’

Karen Nayler, MD, Mindshare, agrees with Fleming: ‘My favourite campaign so far is the new Bell campaign. The Olympics are a perfect platform to launch their new campaign. The work leverages and supports the Olympic spirit while showcasing the breadth of products and services. They are taking this strategy across all aspects of their comms activity such as their online features.

‘The result is a strong corporate message that is kept fresh for the viewer with many executions featuring different products and services,’ she adds. ‘Viewers with DVRs may actually be convinced to stop and see what’s next from Bell.’

We asked two other intrepid media experts to cite their picks and tell us what media performance-enhancement moves they would’ve liked to see. Up first, Jeff Marchand, media consultant at Priority Media, gives his perspective on TV’s Olympian achievements. Tomorrow, Chris Williams, MD at Media Contacts, will give us his take on Olympic online performance. So, stay tuned – same MiC time, same MiC channel.


Wanna help me? Don’t help me -
Jeff Marchand, media consultant, Priority Media, Toronto:

I’m cynical. So I find it amazing that in this maniacal, brought-to-you-by-TV world there remains so little broadcast litter in the Olympic telecasts.

I know it has nothing to do with a shortage of requests from advertisers, as the media planners would have certainly bombarded CBC with a million great ‘engagement’ ideas to ‘connect’ with today’s information-crazy consumers who are way too busy and have too much choice and too much control to simply watch the Olympics the way they are currently presented.

I guess that makes the CBC the most interesting media story of the Games so far, at least to me. I’m sure they would have allowed a few more indulgences had the IOC not clamped down as they typically do, but since they are liberated from all those pesky profitability annoyances, they are free to focus on the on-air product, and we are the beneficiaries of a television event that is pleasant to watch.

We have advertisers that for the first time in a long time are producing ads worthy of repetition – even more than once, in many cases. We have two or three hours of programming that, when combined with advertising of a higher order, makes us hesitate to touch that dial for fear of missing some great sports, ads, or both. The content, when it does sway from live coverage or advertising, maintains a high degree of relevance, and that too makes us want to avoid the remote control.

Despite the fact that my tuning has been somewhat forced, I have found myself enjoying the Olympics for the first time in a long time. I guess this is what TV used to be like.

As for the strategies of the advertisers, it is quite obvious that benevolence is de rigueur these days. Visa is helping everyone all year, every year. Petro Canada and Wonder Bread are focused on the athletes of tomorrow and Rona is actually trying to fund the reunification of the country through its support of Quebec athletes, complete with a quick flash of the fleur-de-lys. I was unaware of how much support our athletes have been getting from all of these blue-chip companies who have so selflessly given of their resources to ensure success for us all.

All I can hope for them is that the businesses achieve the results I am sure they were banking on for the athletes. Of course, the sponsors have no control over the actual performances of the athletes they back, and winning is likely not a condition of their cheque writing. But strategically I would rethink the decision to spend however many millions it is these days to tell us about the great work they are doing. Despite the excessive GRPs, it seems every athlete with a microphone in front of them is unaware of their generosity, and the scoreboard too has turned a blind eye to their commitments. The astute viewer might be wondering how much money they were actually spending on the athletes. They might even wonder what the balance was between that amount and the amount spent on sponsorship and air time costs.

Sometimes less is more. It certainly has been as far as the TV production is concerned, and with a glass-half-full perspective, it has actually helped the sponsors in a small accidental way because by the Games’ end, we will be all the more aware of exactly who the incredible success of the Canadian athletes was ‘brought to you by.’