Social Olympics: Tech Sponsors Showing What it Takes

Over the last six weeks we've been studying 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, taking a close look at Adidas and Cadbury specifically, and also the broader conversation about Olympic sponsorship on the whole. So far, the performance of our Olympic sponsors has been lukewarm at best. Today we check in on our Olympic sponsors and see if they've edged any closer to brand gold.

You would think that the Olympics would be a huge buzz driver for its sponsors, however conversations over the last six weeks have shown the Olympics are no easy win for brands. Even brands that succeed in exciting consumers have to fight a seemingly uphill battle to maintain that success and keep their own Olympic torches burning. 

For example, just look at the conversations about Olympic sponsorship, and where some of the big sponsors sit in those conversations. Online chatter has slowed for P&G, largely due to decreased interest in its 'best job' advert.  Likewise for McDonald's, whose current conversation volumes are barely a quarter of what they were when compared to end April-early May. Meanwhile, we see other brands like Acer, Coca-Cola and Samsung edging forward.

Social Olympics 3 - Fig 1

Source: Brandwatch

Adidas recovers from negative 'sweatshop' attention but Nike remains a thorn in its side

To understand the why's and how's of these ebbs and flows in conversation, we've been taking a close look at Cadbury and Adidas, neither of which have made much progress in their bid to build brand buzz. In fact, both Cadbury and Adidas have seen overall brand conversation change very little (and in some cases fall) over the last six weeks.

Social Olympics 3 - Fig 2

Source: Brandwatch

Social Olympics 3 - Fig 3

Source: Brandwatch

But the story's not all bad. Adidas has made some progress in recovering from media attention around its sweatshop-made Team GB uniforms. In fact, the last two weeks have seen the "Olympic Games" become a major topic for Adidas, with positive sentiment reflected in those conversations.

Adidas Topic Cloud by Sentiment

Social Olympics 3 - Fig 4

Source: Brandwatch

Again, it's the uniforms that have been driving online commentary, but this time in a positive light. Stella McCartney's Olympic uniform designs have been praised and shared, with further positive buzz coming from the volunteer Game Makers  themselves who've been delighting about their uniforms in social media. For example:

"I'm a Games Maker at London 2012 and will happily wear the uniform." (BBC)

"Picked up my Adidas Olympic Games Maker uniform, earlier today. Loving the look! Thoughts, people?" ( Twitter)

Nike continues to be a hot topic for Adidas (notice "Adidas and Nike" turn up as a negative Topic in our data analysis). This time, it's with news that Nike is looking to sponsor the 2016 Rio Olympics. This adds further weight to Nike's connection with the Olympics and begs the question of whether Nike or Adidas better represent the Olympic ideal and who therefore makes a stronger sponsor for the Games.

Health issues continue to challenge Cadbury

Cadbury's ongoing challenge is the health angle, highlighted last week with a widely shared Which? article asking "As Olympic sponsors, do Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald's undermine the healthy ethos of the #Olympics?"

"Whether these organisations, McDonald's, Cadbury's etc, are wealthy or not, having their logo's splashed all over a sporting event is a huge contradiction." ( readers comment - Which?)

This concern has been echoed on Twitter in consumer conversations, for example:

"Love the fact that the Olympics is sponsored by Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Very Healthy :P" ( Twitter)

Of course, the health topic has been an issue for Cadbury from the very beginning, and will continue to place a big question mark on its role in the Olympics. The question is: how will Cadbury rise above it, and how will this brand take advantage of social media to do it?

Cadbury Topic Cloud by Sentiment

Social Olympics 3 - Fig 5

Source: Brandwatch

There has been one small glimmer of hope in recent days at the Digital Shoreditch festival, at which Cadbury sponsored the Google Campus Hackathon. Hash-tagged #cadburyhack. The event challenged techies to create Olympic-themed apps, a move which has helped push the Olympics-Cadbury link amongst participants:

"Cadbury's latest campaign is about making people play and have fun, which really ties in with the spirit of the Olympics, which brings joy and fun to literally billions of people around the world." (

But with "#cadburyhack" garnering only 25 tweets, you have to wonder whether Cadbury is really living up to the Olympic ideal in its own social media efforts, particularly given how well it has done in the past. Compare the 25 #cadburyhack tweets to the 589 tweets containing the "#yourchildhoodsuckedif" hashtag, referenced by people tweeting that "#yourchildhoodsucked if you didn't wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch the Cadbury breakfast show". When such a trivial thing can generate such dramatically more interest, one can't help but think Cadbury could be doing more.

Samsung shows them how it's done

If any brand is showing Olympic sponsors how it's done, it's Samsung, which continues to drive the most mentions amongst brands in conversations about Olympic sponsorship. The Olympic edition Galaxy S III smartphone has been their biggest buzz driver, tied with exciting campaigns; for instance, they're giving away Olympics tickets to the first 50 Galaxy buyers.

It's phenomenal to witness how a brand like Samsung has managed to drive a strong connection between itself and the Games, yet a brand like Adidas, which seems so obviously connected with sport, struggles to achieve that same effect. This dichotomy reflects just how hard it is for sponsors to create that link in people's minds between the brand and the event that they're sponsoring, no matter how related the brand and the event are.

Again, social media plays a huge role in Samsung's - and other tech companies' -success with the Olympics: their products create a direct link between consumers and the Games, and further provide a platform through which people can talk about the Games. To that end, Acer is planning a major push of Olympic-branded products after the Diamond Jubilee and it will be interesting to see the result in online conversation.

Given Cadbury's track record in social media, we expect to see some exciting developments in the coming weeks. We're also keen to see whether Adidas can take advantage of the positivity it's gained from fashion-conscious sportsters. We'll check back on these brands in two weeks and see how far they've come.

 About our Methodology

  - Create a benchmark of Social Media 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 otherwise 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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