Clever digital Olympic campaigns garner attention
Posted: March 11, 2010 | 9:43 ET by Tessa Wegert
With the 2010 Winter Olympics behind us, Canada has a lot to be proud of. We have the most Gold medals we've ever won at any previous Olympic Games, and more Golds than any other host nation in Winter Olympic history.
And then there are the digital marketing campaigns.
Our country won't be remembered for its champion performances, hospitality, and picturesque scenery alone, thanks to the creativity of Canadian marketers eager to align themselves with the Olympic "brand" and promote their products in the context of this major international event. February saw a proliferation of clever campaigns incorporating social media and mobile applications. Here's a rundown of some of the most memorable, and what made them so:
Canada Needs "More Cowbell"As a premier Olympic sponsor, Bell was expected to come out with its ads blazing. What we didn't know was that it would also display a hearty sense of humour. In addition to being rich in content -- offering information on Canadian Olympic athletes as well as on how Bell products can be used to experience the Games – the brand's Vancouver 2010 microsite encouraged Canadians to cheer by way of a very unique mobile app that hinged on the Bell Canada "Cowbell."
"If we're going to win more medals, we're going to need more cowbell!" marketing materials read, referencing the iconic "Saturday Night Live" skit that coined the "more cowbell" phrase. Those who downloaded the app could shake their mobile phones to ring the bell in honour of the athletes and their country.
Users were also invited to post a link to the app on Facebook or Twitter, or send a note about it to their friends through e-mail -- a viral strategy that no doubt helped to expand the brand's reach and recruit additional users. In addition to the Cowbell app, Bell also offered a Virtual Torch mobile app and information on how Bell Mobility customers could use their phones to access Winter Game updates.
The symbol was a bold choice for the sometimes stuffy corporate brand, but a wise one given its resonance with young, tech-savvy consumers. If for years to come audiences associate Bell Canada with the white and purple spotted cowbell highlighted by this funny and artfully themed app, all the better.
Molson Canadian Goes for the GoldMany a Canadian was "geared up for Gold" this year, so what better message could the country's oldest brewery have used to promote itself during the Games? The brand launched a "Gear Up for Gold" Facebook application and invited Facebook users to show their support for the Canadian hockey team by creating a customized Vancouver 2010 Ice Hockey Jersey to use as their profile pic.
In order to try the app, consumers first had to become a fan of Molson Canadian on Facebook. This approach ensured a boost in its fan base while giving the brand a captive audience to which it could deliver additional information about its products moving forward. Because the app pulled the name that would be featured on the jersey directly from each user's Facebook profile (and even offered a choice between last name or last name and first initial), it was quick and easy to use – something not all apps are able to boast.
As with Bell's strategy to attract young and hip consumers with its branded cowbell, Molson made a wise decision in choosing to highlight the hockey event for its male-oriented demographic. This aspect of the Games was the perfect fit for a product associated both with the sport and Canadian pride (the brand was also behind Molson Canadian Hockey House , an entertainment and hospitality pavilion open in Vancouver during the Olympic Games).
RONA Builds it RightThe venues used in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games may have served more as background than played a starring role in the events, but Rona did its best to ensure the facilities got their moment in the spotlight. The hardware retailer's memorable ad campaign, dubbed "Made in Canada," included a microsite and TV spots paying tribute to all those involved in the colossal construction process. In both, a measuring tape is used as a symbol of how much went into building and enhancing the facilities needed to host the events (Rona provided building materials, hardware, paint, and other materials for over a dozen venues.
Every aspect of the related microsite reflects the campaign, the brand, and its products, from a screw that doubles as an Olympic torch to the measuring tape that was integrated into the media bar on the site's video player (it extends as the video is played). A blueprint background and additional video of a workman's hands using different tools to reveal each site section visited enhances the clever concept.
These brands all drew their inspiration from an event that's known for inspiring others, and their muse served them well. If medals were handed out to the best ad campaigns of the Winter Olympic Games, these would most certainly take home the Gold.
Tessa Wegert is a veteran Internet media strategist and writer covering interactive marketing and technology. For links to her past articles and columns visit tessawegert.com, or connect with her on Twitter (@tessawegert) and LinkedIn.
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Tessa Wegert is a veteran media strategist with a background in media planning and buying, content development, ad copywriting, and campaign management. As a prominent industry writer she has been covering digital marketing and technology for leading newspapers and trade publications for over a decade. Connect with her on Twitter (@tessawegert) and LinkedIn.