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Today, we are kicking off our coverage of how brands are engaging and amplifying their presence around the Rio 2016 Olympics. We will be tracking the activities of Olympic sponsors and non-sponsors to come up with our own analysis of what is happening. In addition, we will be curating interesting content we find and will publish it on the @BrandOlympics Twitter account. Historically, most marketing activity related to the Olympics has focused around the two week period of the Games. This year, however, is different and some brands have already activated campaigns. Here’s why…

In the past, the only brands that could do Olympics-related promotion during the games were sponsors, who paid a lot of money to either the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or a country’s Olympic committee, like the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Last summer, the IOC approved a change to what is known as Rule 40 and gave non-sponsors the opportunity to run ads promoting Olympic athletes during the games. But in order to be able to do that, a non-sponsor had to start their marketing campaigns no later than March 27 and then run them continuously through the Olympics.

As a result of this change to Rule 40, brands who aren’t official sponsors have jumped on the Olympics bandwagon and have been promoting Olympic athletes in marketing campaigns. For example, Under Armour has received a lot of attention with their Rule Yourself campaign that features Michael Phelps and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team (as well as other non-Olympic athletes). Other non-sponsors include Gatorade, Skechers and Speedo.

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(Image From Under Armour Rule Yourself Campaign)

Most non-sponsors’ activity thus far, while being “continuous,” has been pretty light. However, there is one non-sponsor that has been very active, particularly in the social channels…adidas, with their #SpeedTakes campaign. Since March 27, adidas has posted 19 videos to their YouTube channel, each one featuring an Olympic athlete. Once a video is posted, they then have published messages promoting the video to other channels, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Here are some of their engagement stats, as of June 21:

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(Data from Origami Logic Platform)
As you can see, Instagram has been the best engagement platform by far for adidas.

adidas’ #SpeedTakes social campaign has not just overshadowed the campaigns by other non-sponsors. It has also been far more active than those of official IOC and USOC sponsors. In fact, most sponsors have done very little thus far. As a point of contrast, one of adidas’ biggest competitors – Nike – is an official USOC sponsor and has posted only two Olympics-related messages on each of the social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube) as of June 21.

The lack of activity from sponsors thus far, however, is not surprising. Because they are sponsors, they were not obligated to show “continuous” activity starting March 27. Now that we are within two months of the start of the Games, we expect to see things pick up. To that end, on June 21, Visa, an official IOC sponsor, launched their global Olympics campaign with “Carpool,” which features more than 20 Olympic athletes. The athletes are all a part of “Team Visa.” The “team” concept is a popular way for brands to promote the group of athletes they are supporting. Other brand teams include those from Kellogg’s and Smucker.

Don’t miss a beat! Check out the Brand Olympics website, where all big brand activity is being tracked throughout the Olympic Games!

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