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From Olympic Gold To Super Bowl Rings: Tips & Lessons For Advertisers

The Super Bowl is the most anticipated sporting event of the year…. unless it’s an Olympics year.  But what are the Big Game do’s and don’ts that Olympics advertisers can apply to make the most of their summer campaigns?

Well since the Olympics ads have beaten the Super Bowl videos hands down – we’ll share 3 tips Super Bowl brands can apply in 2017 too!

3 key Super Bowl lessons to help Summer Games advertisers reach their highest potential:


1. Work the content stack: Four of the five most shared Super Bowl brands launched multiple pieces of content in the Big Game broadcast.  In a rare strategy, Hyundai, T-Mobile, Budweiser and Doritos aired multiple creatives. But, this wasn’t a sheer quantity play – this strategy worked because the content was strong across the ad stacks, allowing viewers to share the ads that resonated most strongly for them.

This will help Olympics advertisers in 2 ways: 1. having a stack of content can engage the diverse, regional audiences watching this global event and 2. maintain brands’ momentum to spark continued conversation throughout the games while also reducing ad fatigue. Under Armour, Nike and Hershey’s are already benefitting from this approach!

2. Reserve budget to be agile! T-Mobile’s “Drop the Balls” ad was zeitgeist-charged, taking on Verizon’s claims in a parody of “A Better Network as Explained by Colorful Balls”  As the Olympics last more than 2 weeks, and we’re bound to see upsets and underdog stories emerge, advertisers should retain budget to capitalize on these zeitgeist moments. They might even impress McKayla (and the millennials who love a good trend tie-in).

3. Don’t let gaps in coverage keep you from your fans. Did you know 59% of Super Bowl viewers never saw Super Bowl ads (on any device)? While sports are the darlings of live TV, even broadcasts as ubiquitously watched as the Super Bowl – and Olympics –  aren’t seen by everyone. Online distribution can help fill any gaps in broadcast reach, and targeting the Open Web can help brands connect with viewers outside the walled social gardens.


Some early Olympic hopeful ads have already made it to the most-shared Olympic ads of all time podium. So, here are a few things Super Bowl advertisers should keep in mind for 2017:

1. Take viewers on an emotional roller coaster: Generating an intense emotional response in viewers is the secret sauce to getting people to watch, share and love your content. Olympics ads are eliciting inspiration, happiness, pride and warmth in viewers – emotions which are heightened by the Games themselves. And winning their shares. The ads of Super Bowl 50 had similar emotional profiles (so few popped from the clutter to get attention) and didn’t pack an emotional punch. Most advertisers tried to evoke hilarity with funny ads – but missed the funny bone en masse, with only 10% of people thinking their ads were actually funny.

Humor is the hardest trigger – it’s subjective and personal. There are 17 other Psychological Responses that can drive video sharing. And the pride, amazement, happiness and exhilaration inherent in the Super Bowl will mean that these emotions are primed and ready for advertisers to leverage in their ads. The 2015 Big Game ads triggered a diverse range of emotions with intensity and broke viral video records. Shares fell 17% YOY after the 2016 Super Bowl.

2. Tell a story: Olympics ads are taking viewers on an emotional journey. Whether an origin story, or highlighting training regimens and sacrifices, or surprising hopefuls (or their parents) – there’s a strong narrative in most of the top shared Olympics ads and Super Bowl advertisers should take note! Longer narratives also give creative teams time to trigger some of the more unusual emotions, like sadness, nostalgia, exhilaration and warmth, which can require a story build up. While Budweiser moved away from their Farmer/Puppy storyline in 2016, their “Lost Dog” ad told a story and took the #1 most shared spot on the leaderboard.

3. Consider a trackvert! The top shared Olympics ad of the year, which has already claimed the #2 most shared Olympics ad of all time title, is a bona fide trackvertisement. Music and advertising go together like peanut butter and jelly, dating back to the advent of the jingle. Music videos top the most shared videos chart, and advertisers who use this fact to their advantage tend to share quickly.

Channel 4’s “We’re the Superhumans” plays like a music video, with a snappy, jazzy, nostalgic soundtrack as the backdrop for the Paralympians’ feats of amazement. In the 2014 World Cup, Activia and Shakira partnered to create a trackvert that rose to become the most shared ad of all time (it’s since been unseated and is now the 2nd most shared of all time) and its catchy soundtrack was the driving force in helping it to quickly create a strong emotional connection with viewers.


Bonus tip for US broadcasters: Check out the BBC’s and Channel 4’s video trailers promoting their Olympics broadcasts. Both are in the top 5 most shared Olympics ads this year, and there’s no reason your announcement video can’t do the same for the 2017 Big Game!