A look back at the 2016 Rio Olympic Game’s best branded campaigns to inspire us to be better marketers.

Seldom does a spectacle come along that draws as many eyes as the Olympics. It is an extraordinary feat to garner the attention of millions, and inspire such raw emotional reactions from around the world simultaneously.

Although Nielsen ratings have reported that U.S. television viewership numbers for this year’s Olympics were significantly lower than years past, there is no denying that brands made big waves digitally. Just over 27 million viewers tuned in to Rio’s opening ceremonies compared to the 40.65 million viewers of the 2012 London Games (CNBC). The near 30% decline in television viewers may be frustrating news for networks, but is indicative of a larger shift in the ways people are engaging with media, globally (Variety).

For marketers, the shift in screens from TV to digital is worth taking note. Although the games have officially ended now, advertisers should be re-examining the ways in which top brands leveraged the Olympics creatively and across screens.

We look back at the 2016 Rio Olympic game’s best brand executions that reached the podium, and inspires us to be better marketers.

1. “Unlimited” by Wieden + Kennedy Portland for Nike

Nike’s “Unlimited” campaign, which hails the everyday athlete as heroes, was ranked by Google as the most memorable campaign of the games. Among the top 12 brands that Google tracked that aired ads during NBC’s broadcast, Nike topped the list with 3.5 billion total impressions.

One of the most meta and most interesting video ads was “Unlimited You” which has garnered nearly 36.5 million views to date on YouTube. The spot shows how to inspire viewers by imagining the ordinary as extraordinary while maintaining viewer attention through the use of hyperbole. Featuring house-hold sports names like Serena Williams, Kevin Durant as well as those not so well known, the video reminds audiences that there are no limits. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor, Oscar Isaac, added into the mix as a fourth-wall breaking narrator, Nike’s “Unlimited You” gave a fresh take on the typical “inspiration sports ad.”

2. #ThatsGold by Ogilvy & Mather Brazil for Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is no stranger to the emotional-sell. From its iconic “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial in 1971 – often cited as one of the most well-known ads of all time – to its “Open Happiness” campaign in 2011, Coca-Cola isn’t just a drink, it’s a feeling. Whether it’s a feeling of hope, peace, joy, or overwhelming achievement, you always “Taste the Feeling” with Coca-Cola.

The brand’s global Rio Olympics campaigns is no different. The “#ThatsGold” campaign is all about the thrill of winning starring 79 athletes of varying disciplines from 23 countries. An appropriate angle that reminds us that the Olympics is what it is – a competition.

Coca-Cola has been sponsoring the Games since 1928, but what’s interesting about this year was the brand’s ability to up audience engagement by tapping into real-time brand moments through social media. The #ThatsGold hashtag helped both its marketers and fans to capture relevant gold moments. In doing so, Coca-Cola illustrates how to get in front of audiences and get them engaged across multiple channels.

3. #DoWhatYouCant by Leo Burnett Chicago for Samsung

Samsung’s “Do What You Can’t” campaign is a powerful example of emotional selling. The campaign features six main athletes from around the globe that have defied impossible odds to be able to make it to the Olympic stage including Tom Daley of Great Britain, Shelley Watts of Australia, and Gabriel Medina of Brazil. The campaign also demonstrates the inspiration that comes from imagining a united world in full harmony, as seen in “The Anthem,” which has been viewed 29.8 million times on You Tube already.

One of the most moving ads, however, is “The Chant” featuring South Sudanese track star Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan for Samsung’s new cord-free IconX earbuds. Considering the fact that South Sudan was not yet recognized as a country just five years ago, Hassan’s achievement story – a symbol of South Sudan’s achievements – are what makes this ad so powerful. 2016 was the first time the country participated in the Olympics.

From the idea that barriers are made to be broken, to the feeling of winning; Nike, Coca-Cola and Samsung’s global campaigns for the Rio Olympics were hugely successful. They’re gleaming examples of how to make the emotional-sell work for today’s digital, multi-channel audiences. The challenge for marketers is to continue to reach the right audience and inspire them, no matter the channel. When it comes to sports related campaigns always remember: playing on the viewer’s heart strings is what brings home the gold.

Want to learn more? Connect with our team at sales@clearpier.com