Issues at the Games good for sponsors

05 Aug 2016 12:00 am by Leela Bozonelis

Brazil is preparing for the arrival of 16,000 athletes and more than 600,000 spectators as the Olympic Games begin in Rio on 5th August, but a number of issues surrounding the games this year have prompted some calls for the event to be postponed or cancelled.  How will this impact official sponsor marketing campaigns?  

Following reports of the Australian Paralympic team being robbed, a member of the New Zealand team being kidnapped and human remains washing up on the banks of rivers, safety at the games has been a key concern in the media.

In addition to human remains, severe water pollution has been documented in the sites assigned to several water sports events.  Raw sewage was reportedly entering the water from a Rio neighbourhood, which already contained a large amount of rubbish and other waste material.  While the health hazards stemming from this are substantial – it has been estimated that Rio's waterways are up to 1.7 million times more hazardous than those in the United States – the Zika virus has also dominated reports of the impending games.

A group of more than 100 scientists wrote a letter to the World Health Organisation claiming it would be "unethical" for the Games to go ahead.

Will the Olympic sponsors want their money back?

For the sponsors – paying upwards of £40 million to be associated with the games this year – how much of an impact will the issues-based reporting have on brand exposure?  Will each brand see the proportion of its associated Olympics coverage fall?  Or will brands be trying to distance themselves from the narrative?

Earlier this year, LexisNexis analysed the media profile of three of the main Olympics sponsors and found that references to each brand in association with the Olympics represented a tiny proportion of the overall media profile each brand received each month.

For the latest analysis on the media coverage and topics of the games, visit the News Tracker Olympics 2016.  

Analysing the media profile of the same three sponsors as the Olympics gets underway presents a very different set of results.  From January to May, the brands – Visa, Omega and McDonald's – are mentioned in 90% of articles that also mention the Olympics.  With coverage of the event reaching its peak as the games begin, the huge sponsorship investments are beginning to pay off.

Visa Media Mentions - Pre Olympics

The analysis shows a clear correlation between the number of articles written about the Olympic Games and those mentioning the sponsors, suggesting that the increased issues-based coverage of the Olympics has increased the sponsor's media profile.

Omega Media Monitoring - Pre Olympics

McDonald's is still loving it

McDonald's has seen the biggest impact on brand association with the Olympics, demonstrating the effectiveness of running a separate communications programme to maximise association with the event.  In addition to its sponsorship, McDonald's is running an active social media campaign and internal communications activities including sending McDonald's employees from around the world to work in its restaurants at the Olympic Park.

McDonald's Media Monitoring - Pre Olympics

Big sponsors hoarding the benefits

Rule 40 – of the official Olympic Charter bylaws – states: "No competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games" without the consent of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) board.

As the games get underway this is a crucial time for the official sponsors.  The Olympics' Rule 40 will force athletes to cut ties with non-official partners until three days after the end of the games – only approved sponsors are allowed to reference "Olympic-related terms" from July 27 to August 24.

We will continue to watch the media coverage of the games – the victories and the environment – and the sponsors –their return on a major investment and their ties to an unpredictable event. See our Olympics Media Tracker page with live charts updating every quarter hour to stay up to date!

Clive Brampton, LexisNexis Media Intelligence

About the author: 

Clive is a news junkie who helps companies ingest, digest and distribute highly relevant media and business information. He enjoys an afternoon of fishing as much as a well done share of voice analysis. Connect with Clive on LinkedIn!

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