Home / Leadership/Inspiration / Sochi 2014: Forget Winners and Losers, Which Brands Really Resonate Now That The Games Are Over?


The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games can be remembered as a lot of things, a controversial whirlwind surrounding preparedness, security, gay rights laws and even biased Olympic judging; but we as Canadians will remember it as the time where we rallied together to win more than just medals.

If you can recall 6 weeks ago, we began on our quest to evaluate leading global brands implementing Olympic sponsorship best practices. Now that the Olympics are over, we can reveal what impact these efforts have made on both their brand and bottom line.

First, let’s review our 12 Best Sponsorship Practices one last time.

  • Sponsorship Practice #1: Deliver a simple, clear, compelling message.
  • Sponsorship Practice #2: Connect with your audience emotionally
  • Sponsorship Practice #3: Take an integrated, holistic approach
  • Sponsorship Practice #4: Market your core strategy through sport…don’t just create a sports related message;
  • Sponsorship Practice #5: Innovate – always add value to existing ideas and platforms
  • Sponsorship Practice #6: Engage your audience
  • Sponsorship Practice #7: Get in the game, in real-time
  • Sponsorship Practice #8: Consummate innovative strategic partnerships   
  • Sponsorship Practice #9: Bring the Olympic Game experience to those who  can’t attend the Games.
  • Sponsorship Practice #10: Build a strong, proactive PR program. E.g. Dealing with negative press and activists.
  • Sponsorship Practice #11: Gather best practices; reapply the key learnings as you progress
  • Sponsorship Practice #12: Demonstrate executional effectiveness consistently across many markets in the short and long term.

At the top of the pack is Procter & Gamble.  Many of you might be wondering what P&G did differently compared to the London 2012 Olympic Games that has kept them relevant after the games? Well, they simply executed sponsorship best practices to the tee, oh yeah, and did I mention they started early?

P&G not only reapplied their key learnings from their last “Thank You, Mom” campaign, but amplified and lead the Olympic marketing charge with their early release of TV commercials, resulting in achieving the largest proportion of positive conversation online throughout the games (Engagor, 2014). By capturing the emotions of their audience rather than bluntly trying to sell them products has really paid off, as their ads have been viewed over 18 million times, solidifying their place in the marketplace, and more importantly in their consumers’ hearts.

Next is BMW Group Canada. This high-performance, power driven automobile brand partnered with the Canadian Olympic Committee as well as chose to sponsor 6 athletes, both new and returning Canadian Olympians to be the face of their ‘Powering Performance’ Campaign, also known as Team BMW. These picks helped drive the momentum of their campaign forward…because when your athletes win, you win. Five out of six members of Team BMW scored medals and created the opportunity for BMW to harness the feel-good nature of a win and connect it effectively to their brand consistently across all markets.

So what does Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC), Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), adidas Canada, and Coca Cola Canada all have in common?

They have all in some capacity implemented these sponsorship best practices to reach their goals.

HBC. The COC and adidas Canada embarked on an innovative strategic partnership for this years Olympic Winter Games, revolutionizing the way sponsorship partnerships are shaped. Together they brought the Olympic experience closer to Canadians who couldn’t actually be there, by helping them feel like an Olympian. HBC created stylish Canadian themed gear that was also worn by the Canadian Olympic team during the opening, closing and medaling ceremonies, while adidas created Olympic themed training gear so that us Canadians would be able to share in that Olympic training feel while being active. We strongly believe that this type of sponsorship will catch fire and soon be implemented for future Olympic games amongst some of the most powerful brands in the world. These guys really win for pioneering this dual sponsorship strategy.

Canadian Tire Corporation delivered a clear message, hoping to connect with their audience through a holistic approach involving all aspects of social media, while weaving it into their bigger picture strategy.  Did they succeed? We’re leaving it up to the audience to decide. Did they resonate with you?

Lastly, we have Coca-Cola Canada. Despite international turmoil regarding gay rights and digital backlash, they are still standing tall through their proactive PR program and really focusing their marketing efforts on what matters most, their frontline in-stores where sales are made actually made. By continuing to activate through mass retail chains throughout the country with Olympic themed messaging and artwork, they continue to remind Canadians of their support for these Olympic athletes, and how they wish to inspire them to win like Patrick Chan and Marianne St-Gelais did, winning their silver medals in figure skating and short track.

Practice makes perfect, well sometimes.

With all preparation, comes execution. These sponsorship best practices mean nothing if they are not implemented correctly. We realize some companies are just beginning their Olympic marketing journey, and some are seasoned vets who are expected to outdo themselves year after year, but with these sponsorship best practices, they can help you maximize the return on your investment!