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Olympic Advertisers Falter at the Social Media Hurdles



Over the past week, I’ve spent anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours a night watching Olympic coverage. I’ve seen our women’s gymnastics team get the gold. I’ve seen Misty May play more volleyball than I ever thought I’d see in my lifetime, and I now understand how a headwind can affect a pole vaulter’s performance.

I also understand the struggle of Olympic moms (Thanks P&G), and I learned that Olympic boxers eat at McDonalds and that Matthew Perry and a monkey both have new shows coming up on NBC. Those last three things, I’ve learned over and over and over again to the point where I want to run screaming from the room when the commercials air for the 59th time in one week.

But it’s not just the commercial frequency that is a fail, it’s their lack of social media integration during this, the Twitter Olympics.

A.T. Kearney found that  50% of the Olympic advertisers made no references to social media in their ads. Only 10% had social media links on their ads. AdAge adds their two cents, stating that Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign was the perfect opportunity to engage with the social media audience by asking them to submit their own stories of greatness. They also suggest that brands with sponsored athletes could have offered chats with loyal followers or a drawing to win a visit from the star.

It does seem that with all the money and effort that was put into these huge Olympic campaigns, there should have been more of an emphasis on bringing the viewers into the conversation. Especially since many of the ads play into emotionalism and national pride. Those P&G Thanks Mom ads pluck at the heartstrings but very few of their Facebook posts ask for input from fans. Imagine a user-generated content page where everyday people post their thanks to their moms. Don’t moms of fireman, policemen, doctors, and soldiers deserve a pat on the back, too?

I understand that a marketing campaign can’t be all things to all people, but it feels like these brands missed out on the biggest trend of this Olympics – social media buzz. Every commercial should end with a prompt that sends people to Facebook or Twitter. We know folks are watching with their smartphones in their hands, so where’s the voice recognition pop that automatically syncs the iPhone to the McDonalds Facebook page. We have the technology, P&G, Visa, and McDonalds have the money, so why didn’t they make it so?

What do you think? Could it be that in the grand scheme, social media isn’t the powerhouse we think it is or did these Olympic advertisers miss out on a huge opportunity?