Winning content marketing gold!

One of the most prestigious sporting events in the world kicked off, with a ‘cut price’ opening ceremony on Friday - The Olympics! Taking place in Rio during August and September 2016, this four-yearly event doesn’t just offer athletes the opportunity to impress; there’s also the chance for brands to shine through smart content marketing. But beware – because while well-considered activity can generate significant results, poorly considered activity can end in disaster and even penalisation. So how do you get it right?


Sponsorship and licensing agreement play a huge part in sport. This summer already we have see Slazenger, Robinsons and Ralph Lauren at Wimbledon and Orange, Coca-Cola and Adidas at the Euros 2016. As a leading global brand, Coca-Cola is also involved in the Olympics alongside the likes of McDonald’s, Panasonic and P&G, and all will expect to get value and exclusivity from what will have been a sizeable financial investment.

To help ensure this, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) clamps down hard to ensure that only the brands officially involved with the Games can use official assets, such as the famous rings logo and even the word Olympics (or any variation thereof). The Rio Olympics’ official website lists the following as some of the ‘protected expressions’: ‘Olympic Games’, ‘Paralympic Games’, ‘Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games’, ‘Rio 2016 Games’, ‘Rio 2016’, ‘Rio Olympiad’, ‘Rio 2016 Olympiad’, ‘XXXI Olympic Games’.

This essentially means that any use of logos or terminology that will associate a brand with the Games is strictly prohibited.

Content Marketing Around The Olympics

So how can a brand still leverage the Olympics without contravening the rules? It’s difficult, but it can be done – if executed with care.

Understanding your audience:

The first rule is to understand whether your audience will react to Olympics related content. It’s very easy to assume that everyone is interested in the Games, such is their ubiquity, but are they popular enough with your audience to warrant a role in your content strategy? There are plenty of other events happening across August and September, and they could chime with your target audience much more than the Olympics. Use your data and analytics; understand what your customers want and what they react to.

Make sure your content is relevant:

There’s nothing worse than a brand tweeting about irrelevant things just to seem current, this can simply make your brand seem desperate. The birth of Princess Charlotte was a notable example, encouraging many brand tweets, and whilst those from Mamas and Papas and P&G were appropriate some others were not. What exactly does Beats By Dre have to do with the Royal Baby? Keep it relevant or there is a risk of losing engagement.

Get creative:

Just because you can’t write about the Games or any of the events directly, that doesn’t mean you can’t write compelling content that your Olympics-loving audience can engage with.  For example holiday companies are already creating content around hot and sunny locations like Rio; drinks companies have been coming up with Rio inspired cocktails and shops across the high street are filled with colourful products associated with the carnival spirit of Rio. Whilst none of this is tied directly to the Olympics, it taps into emotions and themes that will be a part of the Games throughout the next two months.

Distribute at the right time:

Timing is everything. The most perfectly crafted tweet or beautifully written blog post counts for nothing if it isn’t posted at the right time. So think not just about what you’re saying, but when you’re saying it. Pay close attention to the Olympic schedule and how people are responding to events online. Find popular events that are catching people’s attention and take advantage by posting around them.

The Olympics is a major event that will capture interest across the globe. Brands who are looking to create content marketing opportunities around the Games should do so with caution, as it’s very easy to fall foul of the IOC’s strict rules and even easier to create bland and irrelevant content (an ongoing consideration). When done well though, there’s a great chance for brands to really make an impact with their target audience. 

If you're looking for help to get to the finish line and win gold at content marketing, please get in touch