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The Olympics is one of marketing’s biggest stages as brands vie for the attention of consumers around the world. Since March of this year, we have been tracking the Olympics-related social activity of 40 brands – 38 worldwide and Team USA sponsors and two non-sponsors (adidas and Under Armour). Now that the Olympics torch has been extinguished in Rio, here’s what we found…

Athletic apparel manufacturers sweep the medals; Non-sponsors can compete

Team USA sponsor Nike took the gold with a total social engagement score (a combination of likes, comments, and shares) of over 6.4 million. Non-sponsor adidas with a total score of over 4.9 million and non-sponsor Under Armour with a total score of over 2.7 million took the silver and bronze respectively.

Nike’s success was driven by two key reasons – the popularity of their new Unlimited campaign videos, which they unveiled the day before the Olympics started; and the size of their social following. On Instagram alone, Nike has over 60 million followers. During the Olympics, Nike’s 13 Olympics-related posts on Instagram averaged over 265k likes each!

Non-sponsor adidas took advantage of the modified Rule 40, which required them to begin their Olympic campaign in late March. With their #SpeedTakes campaign, adidas demonstrated consistent activity before and during the Olympics. Starting in late March, adidas averaged over 75k likes for each of their 66 #SpeedTakes posts on Instagram.

Non-sponsor Under Armour also took advantage of the modified Rule 40. Their Olympic campaign, #RuleYourself, featured high-profile stars like Michael Phelps and the US Women’s Gymnastic Team. Posts featuring Michael Phelps during the Olympics, in particular, garnered high levels of engagement.

Star power makes a difference

Brands took different approaches on how they leveraged Olympic athletes in their campaigns and our data shows that the star power of an athlete makes a difference on social engagement. Michael Phelps and Under Armour is a good example. During the Olympics, Under Armour posted 25 photos/videos on Instagram. Ten of those featured Michael Phelps and those posts, on average, had over 28k likes each. The remaining 15 posts, many of them featuring the US Women’s Gymnastics Team, averaged about 19k likes each.

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Instagram powered the most social engagement but it was dominated by the “big three”

Over 78% of the engagement activities experienced by brands were on the Instagram platform. However, this number is skewed by the fact that the top three brands – Nike, adidas and Under Armour – had such large numbers and accounted for about 90% of the engagement on Instagram.

Facebook was the platform with the second highest amount of engagement activity, with Samsung leading the way with a total social engagement score of over 1.7 million on the platform.

Shares are driven by compelling videos

The brands with the most shares were:

  • Nike – 278,796
  • Under Armour – 70,478
  • United – 60,747
  • Samsung – 53,691
  • P&G – 42,847

Not coincidentally, each of these brands had videos/commercials that were viewed and shared often:

Activity matters

Despite not having nearly as large a social following as other brands, Olympic sponsor Omega had an impressive level of social engagement for their Olympic campaign, #RecordingDreams, with a total score of over 640 thousand (they have a little over 1 million followers on Facebook and just over 700 thousand followers on Instagram). The success of Omega’s campaign was a result of a high volume of activity (294 posts) that was supported by a solid level of engagement (averaged above 2k likes per post). And whereas the engagement for Nike, adidas and Under Armour were dominated by Instagram, Omega’s engagement was fairly balanced across Instagram and Facebook.

Now that the Olympics torch has been extinguished in Rio, get our comprehensive campaign report to see which brands took home the gold, silver, and bronze. You’ll learn the different approaches various sponsors and non-sponsors deployed to boost brand engagement, and find out which worked, which didn’t, and how you might leverage some of these tactics for your marketing efforts. 

Update: Report out now!

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