Olympics Advertising Case Studies

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Olympics Advertising Best Practices

Some best practices that companies/brands that want to advertise during the Olympics should be aware of include identifying with the audience, getting personal, and using all possible channels.

1. Identifying With The Audience

  • Companies and brands that want to advertise during the Olympics should make their advertisements relatable to their customers and be real.
  • An example of this was Visa's campaign during the 2016 Olympics, where they gave their audience a glimpse into the personalities of various athletes. There was dialogue and humor involved, and the audience got to identify with the athletes on a more personal level.
  • Visa was able to showcase their strengths in a humorous way, and in a way that their audience could respond to.

2. Getting Personal

3. Using All Possible Channels

  • Brands that want to advertise during the Olympics need to think holistically by ensuring that they are utilizing every touchpoint and connecting with their audience in the most effective and efficient methods. All channels should be in sync and support each other.
  • An example is the #ThatsGold campaign by Coca-Cola during the 2016 Olympics, which was a multi-channel campaign that involved social media, TV, event activation, print and Olympic sponsorships.
  • They engaged both influencers and athletes, and tied the idea of an everyday win to their brand by highlighting the fact that gold medal moments happen anywhere and anytime, not only at the Olympics. Fans were able to celebrate their wins while at the same time celebrating the wins of their favorite athletes. The campaign was successful, as the hashtag remained in use up to 18 months later.

Research Strategy

We started by our research by searching through articles, blogs, and publications relating to advertising. Our primary focus was on advertising during the Olympics. In compiling this information, we examined case studies, tips and expert opinions, and identified the best practices as those that were frequently mentioned.

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Olympics Advertising Case Studies (1)

Some distinguished examples of companies and brands that put out ads for the 2016 and 2018 Olympics with a focus toward millennials and those aged 18-34, include Beats by Dre, Under Armour, and Nike. Each of these ad campaigns were highly reviewed and praised by many authoritative review sites across the board, and each campaign gathered a lot of attention to their brand directly as a result of these ads.

Top Influential Ad Campaigns for Millennials During the 2016 and 2018 Olympics

Beats by Dre

  • Beats by Dre's 2018 Olympic ad campaign "Above the Noise" featured some of the world's best winter athletes including Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn from the US, Ayumu Hirano from Japan, Kevin Rolland from France, and Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China. The ads highlighted how these top-level athletes must maintain the focus and determination of a master, with the diligence to persevere and to overcome to greatness, despite all challenges and obstacles. The ability to drown out noise from the outside world with Beats headphones was symbolized in these athletes zoning into their task and drowning out all distractions.
  • Beats by Dre also teamed up with these athletes as social media influencers, with each athlete posting between 1 and 4 sponsored posts on Instagram. With Lindsey Vonn having 1.4 million followers, and Shaun White having 1.2 million, the results of the campaign were hundreds of thousands, (see Beats by Dre's example Instagram screenshot here) if not millions of many millennials viewing the ads through social media alone.
  • Not focused on offering a blatant or sentimental message to consumers like other Olympic ads, Beats by Dre instead presented ads that were more visual and aesthetic, with more focus on energy, and an athletic, fast paced vibe. With loud, quick, thumping beats from the sounds of G-Eazy and Zoe Nash, and flashing scenes and colors of red and blue with the athletes and their failures and successes, these visual, bold, and fast paced ads were definitely targeting those of the younger generations, especially those aged 18-34.
  • The marketing message aimed at showing how Beats headphones are not only above the other competition through hard work and diligence, but also how they provide peace and solace from the outside hectic world. These athletes overcoming great obstacles and difficulties with focus and concentration, to get up and go again, directly targeted the younger more athletically active generations.
  • These ads run by Beats by Dre all received high acclaim from reputed and respected reviewers and advertising and marketing authorities and were all seen as general successes.
  • The ads can be found and viewed in a number of locations, including here and here.

Under Armour

  • Under Armour's 2016 "Rule Yourself" Olympic campaign ad was intended to be motivational, showcasing the hard work and daily grind, the success and failures, and the patience and daily discipline required to overcome and "rule yourself" and become better than you are. Featuring the US women's gymnastic team and their daily practice in one ad, and Michael Phelps and his comeback in another, the athletic brand's marketing message directed toward the younger generation was to believe in yourself, and work hard and diligently to one day achieve your goals.
  • Both of Under Armour's campaign ads feature hard, grueling work, juxtaposed with the lovely sound of delightful classical music in the foreground, symbolizing the joys of disciplined hard work and dedication to a great cause. This use of young athletes to promote an athletic brand's lifestyle is powerfully targeted toward the younger generations.
  • Both of Under Armour's 2016 Olympic ads received great acclaim across the board from authorities, and both are listed within the top ten most shared Olympic ads of all time, with the Michael Phelps ad being shared at least 473,635 times, and the US gymnastics ad being shared at least 193,242 times across social media.
  • The ads can be viewed here, and here, and here.


  • Nike's 2016 "Unlimited You" Olympic ads were inspiring and motivational, and even humorous, while featuring athletes such as gymnast Simone Biles and tennis champion Serena Williams. The message of these ads was about believing in yourself and your potential to become anything you choose. It focused on overcoming bounds and inner doubts, and the fact that anyone is capable of achieving great things.
  • Nike's 2016 Olympic ad featuring Serena Williams reached at least 65,668 shares across social media, and is also listed in top 10 most shared Olympic ads of all time. Their 2016 "Unlimited Future" ad reached at least 40,037 social media shares and is also on the top 10 most shared list.
  • Nike's ads were flashy, colorful, and personal, revealing the mindset of great athletes and their common human qualities, but also how they achieve greatness by belief and determination. The focus seemed to be how even the great athletes were just typical everyday people at first, thus inspiring the younger generations targeted in their ads to believe in their greatness, and thus live more of the Nike lifestyle and mindset.
  • The top Nike ads can be seen here and here.

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Olympics Advertising Case Studies (2)

The “What Get’s You Started?” (Kellogg) and “How to Curl” (Cheetos) are additional Olympic campaigns that aimed to attract millennials in the United States, including those aged between 18 and 38. Both ad campaigns received several praises from reputable experts across the board and garnered noticeable social media impressions.

Kellogg’s “What Gets You Started?”

Cheetos’ “How to Curl”

  • The ads can be found and viewed in several locations, including here and here.


While there were numerous campaigns that were created because of the 2016 and 2018 Olympic Games, there were not a lot of noticeable tech companies that used the occasion to advertise to the 18 to 34 year demographic. We went through several trusted media sites such as Forbes, BusinessWire, the Washington Post, PRNewswire, and the New York Times to identify any companies that received coverage for the campaigns they ran during the previous two Olympic Games. Unfortunately, we were not able to find any tech companies that received any major coverage. We also went through several social media accounts and checked whether there were any significant ads that used the 2016 and 2018 Olympic games for a promotion but were not able to find any notable ads from tech companies that received a major following by people.
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Olympics Advertising Case Studies (3)

Hershey and Intel put out successful advertisements that appealed to the masses. Hershey created a commercial in support of the US Olympic team in 2016, while Intel played a significant role in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Olympics, which resulted in a short commercial.

The Hershey Company

  • Hershey is one of the leading chocolate companies in the world.
  • The company introduced their Olympic campaign in June 2016 titled "Hello from Home." Since it was the Olympic season, the advert featured Simone Biles (Olympic gold medalist), Jordan Burroughs (Olympic wrestler), and Mallory Weggemann (Paralympic swimmer).
  • Athletes find themselves away from their loved ones during the Olympic season. Hershey and Arnold worked together to create the "Hello from Home" advert, which was made to show Olympic game participants that their families, friends, and fans back home are behind them in their endeavors.
  • A popular video of Hershey shows Simone Biles and others receiving a package filled with family and friends' photos and Hershey chocolate bars. Upon opening each chocolate bar, she finds words of encouragement from significant people back home.
  • According to Mary-Ann Somers (VP), "We want our country and athletes to know that Hershey is here to help bring moments of goodness and patriotic pride throughout the games and beyond."
  • The video (2 minutes long) featuring Simone Biles can be viewed here.
  • TV analytics (iSpot.tv) show that the advert (featuring Simone Biles) was aired 3,415 times and made over 601 million TV impressions. It was viewed 423,320 times on online devices which resulted in 246,173 social impressions. The overall sentiment of the advert was 96% positive.

Intel Corporation

  • According to Natalie Cheung (general manager), "the Olympics are a time when the sports and entertainment industries are buzzing with record-setting performances." Intel created a performance with drones at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
  • After performing at the PyeongChang 2018 Opening Ceremony, Intel ran a 30-second advert named "Experience the Moment at the Winter Olympic Games" involving drones. The drones changed colors and formed various artworks such as skiers.
  • In the video, Intel reveals that it is proud to power the first drone show at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games.
  • The intent was to show the magnificence of Intel Shooting Star drones and their entertainment capabilities.
  • The Intel Shooting Star drones are unique machines manufactured for entertainment functions. They have LED lights to create colorful effects.
  • Intel's commercial can be viewed here.
  • TV analytics (iSpot.tv) show that the commercial was aired 60 times and made over 165 million TV impressions. It was viewed 457,817 times on online devices which resulted in 1,618,186 social impressions. The overall sentiment of the advert was 89% positive, according to viewers.

Research Strategy

This study used information from company websites and press releases. Other sources included Sports Illustrated, Olympic News, Forbes, and Extreme Reach. We obtained information on the impact of the commercials from iSpot.tv (account has to be created to view analystics) because it shows the performance over the designated Olympic period.