The countdown is on. Behind the FIFA World Cup, my favorite sporting event is almost here! Leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, the talk from the media across the world has been about how big of a disaster the outcome of the Olympics could be. We all remember the tweets from the Sochi Olympics in Russia about gross water and rooms falling apart…
It’s always amazing to me how the event draws millions or billions of tweets and viewers, regardless of the background issues. The Olympics are a time that countries get together and cheer with huge amounts of pride – it’s not often whole countries can get behind one team all together. Social media has been abuzz of names we all know when it comes to Olympics time: Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Kerri Walsh Jennings. The story of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team going for the first ever gold medal as the reigning FIFA World Cup Champion has been a constant on the soccer sites.
The stories of these athletes beat the bad press with a one-two punch. Rewind to 2012, Phelps was at the end of his career, over swimming and clearly unhappy. Four years later he is on the other side of a DUI arrest, rehab stint and the birth of his son, plus he loves swimming again. What a story, right? The Today Show on NBC has been using clips of his one-on-one with Matt Lauer for months leading up to the Olympics. These athletes become role models for people of all ages in sports like gymnastics, track and field, swimming and more.
The advertising dollars spent on product or service advertising goes through the roof. AdWeek has dedicated a whole page to advertising during the Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) released the stringent rules for the Olympics’ intellectual property. Businesses and brands need to carefully watch how they use trademarked words or phrases like: Olympic, Team USA, Road to Rio. Even if a company sponsors an athlete but is not an Olympic sponsor, they could be served a cease and desist as soon as that tweet goes out. These brands can’t even wish athletes luck.
This has always been interesting to me since the nature of social media is to use hashtags and retweet things to create buzz, but I suppose the Olympics have plenty of buzz without these brand mentions. The last factor is also the locked down security measures due to the threat of terrorist attacks. It’s sadly become a fact of hosting a huge event, one that Brazil and Rio have taken into account. The New York Times did a good job of covering this issue more in depth.
Regardless of these PR issues, I’m sure in a few weeks we will look back on the event with pride and excitement of what these athletes and teams all accomplished. I’ll be watching as they make history and bring those medals home to the United States!