Using the Olympics to Market Your Business

The Olympics are here again!

This time around the eyes of the world will be on Rio as we all cheer on athletes, countries and individual sports as they compete for everlasting glory.

Aside from all the patriotism, the Olympics also present a unique marketing opportunity for businesses… so get yourself involved.  

Surely it would be criminal not to capitalize on the enthusiasm and buzz that comes along with it all. Especially if you end up earning yourself a pretty penny!

Here, we’ll give you a couple of ideas to get going and explore to do’s and dont’s surrounding Olympic marketing (yup it’s pretty strict, but there are ways around it).

Trademarks and rules

Before you start, you should be aware of the strict trademark rules which have been enforced by the International Olympics Committee.  

The laws in place prevent non-sponsors from advertising various things, including various keywords and phrases.

For more information on these restrictions, see the official IOC online guidelines here.   

You would be wise to read this guide for a full explanation of what is off limits, but suffice it to say that you’d better not even think of using anything that has been trademarked by either the IOC and USOC.

Hold the phone though…. Because this doesn’t mean the opportunities to associate your brand with the event is dead in the water….

All you need to do is;

Get creative

As we said, you don’t have to rely on Olympic branding and trademarks to start earning your slice of the financial pie.

For example, London based fashion retailer Marks & Spencer created a campaign in 2012 in which a pair of ladies heels were used on running track style starting blocks.

The marketing slogan for this campaign was ‘’On Your Marks’’ . Genious right!?

Using the Olympics to Market Your Business

Well you could do something similar.

Whatever you sell or whatever service you offer, there will be a route to market for you. All you have to do is wrack your brains a little. Here’s a few marketing slogans you could use;

‘‘Go for gold with our spectacular range of …….’’

‘‘Make sure you finish first’’

‘‘Don’t jump the gun’’

‘‘Get a jump on the competition with our ……’’

Be patriotic

No matter what business or sector you are in, there’s an opportunity for you to look great. Here’s a few ideas for various sectors. (even if you’re not one of the below, these ideas can still be used)

Retailers: Take advantage of the seasonal patriotism by offering special offers on items that carry the colors of your country.

Offer a free flag with every purchase or include in store activities for the kids like face painting or a mini sports day!

Oh, and don’t forget to decorate!

Get the streamers out, decorate the manakins, grab the bunting and drape the flags! It’s time to go all out in an effort to get more customers.

Using the Olympics to Market Your Business

Beautiful British bunting on high street

Why not ask all the other shops on the high street to enter into a ‘best shop window’ competition?

That way, you’ll all get a slice of the ‘financial pie’ meaning you can create a carnival style atmosphere with various activities – at a low cost.

If people see something going on, their curiosity will get the better of them.

Restaurants: Create a sporty menu! We’re pretty sure people will love to try your Laura Trott’s Hot Pot, Andy Murray Curry and Tom Daley Dippers!

Using the Olympics to Market Your Business

serve up some ‘Daley Dippers’

You could also have a themed quiz, fancy dress night or a ‘pub olympics’, featuring darts, pool, dominoes etc.

Larger businesses:

Hit the public with a double message! Why not promote your service/product with a sporty theme?  You could also include several promotions. I.e;

  1. Buy a service/product – get a free flag or branded shirt
  2. Buy a service/product – be entered into a draw to win free athletics tickets

You could also organise a new advertising/marketing campaign…  

i.e. attend networking events and/or conferences and/or set up stands in highly populated areas. Then get the public to sign up to your service and/or mailing system and social media and when they do, give away freebies. (the public LOVE freebies)

The point of this is – you don’t break the bank….  and you add names to your mailing system and get additional contacts for your business/business mailing system.

Others will also be genuinely interested in the product/service you offer because you’re marketing yourself in a slightly more ‘light hearted’ way.

Offer real-life promotions

Get your business into the excitement surrounding the Games by creating promotions that are based on your country’s success in the competition.

For instance; You could offer one off discounts when your country achieves a medal or a particular athlete breaks a world record.

Using the Olympics to Market Your Business

Michael Phelps – world record breaking swimmer

This sort of promotion will really take off when you use social media strategies alongside it, which brings us nicely to our next point …

Don’t forget social media!

Engage with your customers during the Olympics by getting active on all of your social media accounts. Try posting poll questions that stir interest online:

  • “Who will win the 100m dash? Bolt or Gatlin?”
  • “What country has the craziest uniform design this year?”
  • “Will Jessica Ennis Hill win another medal?’’
  • “Who will be top of the medals table at the end?’’

You could join in the fun too! Post a picture of yourself or company employees playing a sport from the Games. Then encourage your followers to do the same by offering a discount to anyone who posts a picture doing something sporty on your page.

Adding a company hashtag will give you more social engagement too.

For instance, if you’re the boss (or an employee) of an UK insurance LTD, run out of the office in your gym gear while wearing company stickers and emblems, speak to the public, get them to do the Mo Farah ‘Mobot’ or the iconic Usain Bolt stance, then post the photos on social media with hashtags like   #EmployeeOlympian ,  #UKInsuranceOlympics & #InsuranceVsPublic.

It will create a real sense of community spirit!

Essentially what we’re saying is – Be a fan first and a salesperson second.

Your customers can see through shallow marketing campaigns, and they’d rather be having fun with you anyways.

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