Social Olympics: As the Games Begin, Brand Sponsors Face Their Biggest Challenge Yet

By Greenlight | 04 Jul 2012

Over the last several months 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. With the Olympics just a few days, it's crunch time for brand sponsors.

With the London 2012 Olympics nearly upon us (they start this Friday 27th July in case you've missed it), Olympic sponsors are ramping up their activity in a last-stitch effort to make the most of their association with the Games. As you might expect, online conversation about Olympic sponsorship has also gained momentum, more than doubling over the last two weeks to 142k conversations, up from 63k the last time we checked.

Volume of online conversation about Olympic Sponsorship, 23 May - 23 July 2012

Social Olympics 6 - Fig 1

Source: Brandwatch

Much of this conversation has to do with regulations around Olympic sponsorship, with "brand police" on patrol for non-sponsor brands, large and small, who imply any association with the Games. The debate has led to an increase in negative sentiment around the general topic of sponsorship, but for brands themselves, the conversation seems to have little impact on their own level of online buzz. This is reflected in our two spotlight brands, Adidas and Cadbury, where online conversation - both positive and negative - has changed very little in the weeks and months leading up to the Olympics.

Volume of online conversation about Cadbury, 23 May - 23 July 2012

Social Olympics 6 - Fig 2

Source: Brandwatch

Volume of online conversation about Adidas, 23 May - 23 July 2012

Social Olympics 6 - Fig 3

Source: Brandwatch

 (Note: The spike in conversations for Adidas in June is due to the release of its "shackle sneakers", prompting a burst negative comments, however it's interesting to note that this has had little impact on sentiment around Adidas in the aftermath of this news story.)

Of course, the real test will be the Games themselves, which promise a huge audience. But just how much of that audience will Adidas, Cadbury and other sponsors capture, particularly when they not only have each other to contend with, but the actual sporting events, too?

With competition this heavy, and stakes this high (the Guardian reports that London 2012 'tier one' partners are spending up to £40m), our spotlight brands are beefing up their efforts, with some interesting forays into social that could see their reach expand over the coming weeks.

Adidas unshackles its potential

At last we have some good news for Adidas whose Facebook page is now splashed with Olympic goodies. Most of this centres around its  "Take the Stage" campaign, which gives fans the opportunity to imitate British athletes, and achieved a positive boost this week when David Beckham dropped in on a London 2012 photo booth to pose with fans, garnering positive buzz on Twitter and Facebook.  There have been 494 mentions of the #takethestage hashtag on Twitter over the last two weeks, and the Facebook post about David Beckham has received 2,270 "likes" and 60 "comments" thus far.

Social Olympics 6 -Fig 4

Social Olympics 6 - Fig 5

Cadbury shows signs of social promise

In our last post, we discussed Cadbury's announcement of Cadbury House in Hyde Park, opening this Friday to coincide with the Olympics. And this week, it stepped up the social element by announcing plans to give visitors an Oyster-like card that instantly sends status updates and photos to Facebook when swiped at touchpoints around Cadbury House.


Social Olympics 6 - Fig 6