Social Olympics: Are Non-Brand Sponsors Enjoying All the Glory?

Two weeks ago we wrote about our new research project into how well the Olympics is working for the brands that sponsor it. We're using our own social media framework to assess whether the Olympics are beneficial to the brands, and to what degree social media is driving those benefits. Today we check in on our Olympic sponsors, and see who's winning the race for brand gold.

Sponsors of this year's Olympics have their work cut out for them. A recent analysis by Global Language Monitor, a company that assesses which brands are linked with events in the public's eye, recently showed that more than half of the top 50 companies associated with the Olympics are not official sponsors. So how do Olympic sponsors make their mark?

This is what we're trying to find out. We've been studying conversations about Olympic sponsorship, paying special attention to brands Adidas and Cadbury, to determine whether Olympic sponsorship is beneficial to the brands. Our data thus far adds weight to Global Language Monitor's study: sponsorship or not, brands are finding it difficult to rise above the storm of other brands already well-established in the public's imagination as being associated with sport. Furthermore, social media can also serve as a hindrance, particularly when there's a negative story being shared.

This is among the core problems for Adidas, whose attention battle with non-sponsor Nike has been heating up for months, and will no doubt continue to do so, leading up to the games.  So far, it's not looking good. In fact, Adidas has witnessed a drop in conversation over the last two weeks. Furthermore, the major topic of conversation for Adidas is "Nike", driven largely by consumer conversation about sports footwear and apparel, where the two brands are often mentioned in comparison.

Monica Shaw 2 - Fig 1

Monica Shaw 2 - Fig 2

Source: Brandwatch

Adidas's case is further complicated by ongoing reports that its Team GB Olympic Kit is manufactured under sweatshop conditions in Indonesia, contributing to 25% of conversations about Adidas being negative. Nike, meanwhile, is receiving high praises for its kit, with positive buzz for recently released TurboSpeed running suit to be worn by the U.S. running team during the Olympics.

Cadbury, too, has seen a slight drop in conversation over the past two weeks, though still maintaining a mostly positive or neutral tone in conversations (only 6% of conversations are negative).

Monica Shaw 3 - Fig 3

Monica Shaw 2 - Fig 4

Source: Brandwatch

Still, it's surprising that Cadbury hasn't managed to garner more buzz in social media, particularly when it has been so successful in the past. In fact, in the last two weeks, one of the most widely discussed stories in social media has been related to news that Cadbury heiress Felicity Loudon sold her £33m home to launch a rival to the "American plastic cheese company" - nothing to do with the Olympics, and not terribly good for the Cadbury brand.

In conversations about Olympic sponsorship, Cadbury is mentioned very little when compared to other sponsors such as P&G, McDonald's and Samsung.

Monica Shaw 2 - Fig 5

Source: Brandwatch

Samsung's recent release of the Samsung Galaxy S3 Olympic Edition has helped make Samsung the most talked about sponsor in conversations about Olympic sponsorship. P&G, too, has generated excitement through its P&G 'best job' ad for the 2012 Olympics, currently at the top of Brand Republic's Campaign Viral Video Chart.

Cadbury is not one to sit still. Its latest attempt to capture attention is a Shazam-enabled TV advert which aired on 12 May during the Britain's Got Talent Final, which allows consumers to interact with the ad via an app - in this case, unwrap a virtual Cadbury chocolate bar to see whether they've won tickets to the Olympic opening ceremony. But is it enough to boost the brand above its usual level of social media engagement? Time will tell.

Both Adidas and Cadbury have their work cut out for them if they're going to make the most of their Olympics sponsorship. In two weeks, we'll check back on these brands and see how far they've come.

About our Methodology

  • Create a benchmark of SM chatter in English for the brands and for the topic as at 29/04/12
  • Monitor changes in chatter
  • Identify causes for change in levels of chatter
  • Assess to what degree changes are beneficial or other wise to the brand
  • Assess to what degree Social Media is driving the changes and, as a phenomenon, improving the marketing & PR process for the brands in focus and the wider story

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