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Business

February 23, 2014

Olympic ads highlight advertising's winners and losers

NEW YORK (AP) — The pressure to win during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, set to end today, has been nearly as intense for marketers as it has been for the athletes themselves.

Just like there are medals handed out during the Games, there are winners and losers in advertising.

It’s a huge stage for marketers. Companies pay as much as $100 million for exclusive rights to sponsor Olympic teams, while others shell out tens of thousands hoping to score gold by backing individual athletes. The catch? Advertisers’ fates are often tied to external factors.

There were a number of distractions this year due to controversy over security, gay rights laws and Olympic preparedness in Sochi. But fortunately for many U.S. sponsors, those things were overshadowed by the athletic prowess of nation’s Olympic athletes: The U.S. has won more medals than any country so far — good news for advertisers since experts say being associated with a medal winner is the easiest way to capture the goodwill created by the Olympics.

Still, the best advertisers find ways to connect even when their athletes underperform. The advertising winners this year managed to both harness the feel-good nature of the Olympics and convey a message about their products. The losers, meanwhile, failed to make memorable ads or worse, made an unfavorable brand impression to the millions of people watching.

“Marketers have to be ready to capitalize on a good performance, but you still have to plan for a mediocre showing,” from sponsored athletes said Tim Calkins, marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Business in Northwestern. “Marketers need to find a way to make the whole effort successful.”

MEDAL WINNERS

Procter & Gamble, a longtime Olympic sponsor, won points early with its feel-good ad “Pick Them Back Up.” The spot is a part of its popular “Thank You Mom” campaign that shows moms supporting young athletes when they fall down.

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