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Business

February 23, 2014

Olympic ads highlight advertising's winners and losers

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Since the consumer products company debuted the ad online before the Olympics began, the spot has been viewed 18 million times on YouTube. And Ace Metrix, which measures the effectiveness of ads, has ranked it the most effective Olympic ad.

“They won by getting out early,” said Ammiel Kamon, senior vice president of products and marketing of Kontera, which monitors how much online conversation brands generate.

Visa, another top Olympic sponsor, focused on responding to many events real time on social media. It helps that the payments company sponsored 37 Olympians and Paralympians, including gold medalists ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White and skier David Wise.

Visa was able to respond quickly on Facebook when its athletes won gold medals, and that paid off. A photo mosaic tribute to Davis and White has received 54,000 likes and nearly 3,000 shares. Another for Wise received 39,000 likes and more than 1,600 shares.

“What they’ve been posting on Facebook has been well timed and gained traction,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst of social media at research firm eMarketer.

GOING HOME WITHOUT THE GOLD

Unpredictability is what the Olympics are all about. That can work in a brand’s favor if an underdog sponsored athlete suddenly wins gold. But there’s another side to this, as Under Armour found out.

The athletic wear company spent years developing a high-tech suit for the U.S. speedskating team, which was heavily favored coming into competition. But then the team failed to medal, and worse, some blamed the Under Armour suit.

It is not clear the suit had anything to do with the team’s performance and some experts say the flap likely won’t hurt domestic sales of its core products like shoes and T-shirts. But it was a blow to the brand because it came in front of a global audience right at the time when Under Armour is seeking to expand internationally. And experts say it put the company on the defensive instead of garnering positive Olympic goodwill.

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