Dating back to 1896, the Olympics is the world’s largest international sports competition. Every two years, thousands of athletes representing more than 200 countries converge to compete amongst the best of the best in a variety of sports.
The global and celebratory nature of the event has made it a tremendous advertising opportunity for brands of all types. Leading up to and during the games, Olympic athletes take center stage in the marketing world, routinely starring in television commercials, appearing on cereal boxes, and becoming ubiquitous across digital and social ads.
More recently, the growth of social media and influencer marketing has given way to lucrative brand partnerships online. Many brands are leveraging Olympians to publish sponsored content on Instagram and other social platforms. Here we’ll examine three standout influencer marketing campaigns that took place during the 2018 Winter Olympics from Kellogg’s, Beats By Dre and P&G.
The Kellogg Company is one of United States’ most successful food conglomerates, employing more than 28,000 people and raking in upwards of $13 million in global revenue each year. The brand is perhaps most famous for its cereal offerings, which include Corn Flakes, Special K and more.
To promote its cereal offerings to consumers in the U.S. and abroad Kellogg’s partnered with four Olympians and one Paralympian participating in the games, all of which appear on limited edition Kellogg’s cereal boxes.
Each influencer posted multiple Instagram photos and videos in the months and days leading up to the Pyeongchang Games commemorating their limited edition Kellogg’s cereal boxes and showcasing specific cereal varieties. Each also used the unifying hashtags #GetsMeStarted and #TeamKelloggs.
Five-time Olympic snowboarder Kelly Clark was the second largest influencer involved in the campaign, with upwards of 73,000 followers. She created five sponsored Instagram posts in partnership with Kellogg’s, one of the highest performing of which was a video.
In the video, Clark expresses genuine pride at being selected by Kellogg’s and positions her cereal box cover feature as a great honor. She also intrinsically ties her feature to the tradition and grandeur of the Olympics by saying, “…it’s the pinnacle of athletic achievement.” In doing so, she highlights Kellogg’s as a part of the Olympics and implicitly encourages audiences to purchase a limited edition Kellogg’s cereal box as part of their Olympics experience.
Clark’s post, and the Kellogg’s campaign as a whole, takes a traditional advertising strategy that goes back generations (putting athletes on cereal boxes) and uses social media to strengthen the effectiveness of the technique. The post serves to raise awareness around Clark’s cereal box feature and more broadly, Kellogg’s as a whole.
Clark is featured on a Special K box, known for its health messaging. By aligning itself with a healthy, fit, strong Olympic snowboarder, Kellogg’s effectively promotes Special K to its health-conscious target market.
Consumer electronics brand Beats By Dre is well known for its stylish headphones and high-profile athlete sponsorships. The brand dominates nearly half of the U.S. wireless headphone market, outcompeting competitors among the likes of Apple and Bose.
To promote its various headphone offerings before and during the 2018 Olympics the brand collaborated with seven influencers, all athletes participating in the 2018 Winter Games. Each created between one and four sponsored Instagram posts. All but 1 of the 15 total posts include the unifying hashtag #AboveTheNoise.
Arguably one of the most popular American athletes at the 2018 Games, skier Lindsey Vonn created two sponsored posts in partnership with Beats By Dre. The higher performing of the two is a polished video intermixing clips from Vonn’s training regime with flashbacks to major injuries she’s overcome. In the video Vonn wears Beats By Dre headphones, prominently showcasing the company’s logo.
The video effectively positions Beats By Dre headphones as a key part of Vonn’s preparation and clearly associates the campaign’s unifying hashtag #AboveTheNoise with Vonn’s ability to avoid distractions and overcome challenges. By aligning itself with one of the most admired US Winter Olympic athletes of all time, Beats By Dre capitalizes on Vonn’s “cool factor” and positions itself as a brand top athletes use.
Procter & Gamble Co., better known as P&G, is the largest consumer goods company in the world, owning brands such as Dawn, Charmin, Bounty and more.
The company leveraged the 2018 Olympics to both advertise many of its brands and to take a distinct political stance in the form of a heartfelt television commercial promoting equality and tolerance. A number of influencers and Olympians partnered with the brand to promote the same positive messaging across social media.
In conjunction with the Olympics television ad, P&G partnered with nine diverse Instagram influencers ranging from a celebrity stylist to a fashion blogger to multiple Olympians. Each published between 1 and 12 sponsored Instagram posts and many used the hashtag #LoveOverBias, which is also featured in P&G’s television commercial.
The largest influencer involved in P&G’s Olympic Instagram campaign was Laura Reynoso, a fashion influencer based in Texas with nearly one million followers. Reynoso posted 12 sponsored Instagram posts in partnership with P&G, capturing her spectator experience at the 2018 Games and highlighting specific U.S. athletes she interviewed in partnership with P&G.
Of the three brands covered in this case study, P&G is the only one that leveraged non-athlete influencers. By partnering with a prominent fashion blogger who was merely an observer of the event, P&G was able to produce more influencer content during the Olympics than Kellogg’s and Beats By Dre.
One of Reynosa’s standout posts contains two images of her and Elana Meyers Taylor, an American bobsledder. In the caption, she draws attention to the fact that Taylor defies gender and racial stereotypes in a male-dominated sport. The post mirrors the messaging in P&G’s TV commercial by emphasizing acceptance and resilience and serves to affirm P&G as a forward-thinking company.
87% of consumers stated they would purchase a product based on values — because the company advocated for an issue they cared about — and 76% would boycott a brand if it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. The TV ad and Reynoso’s Instagram post both encourage consumers to buy P&G products not only because they’re useful, but also because the company aligns with his/her values.
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