David Blecken
Feb 23, 2017

Take the road less travelled to be noticed at the Olympics: Unruly

Brands should work to evoke less obvious emotions in order to stand out at major sporting events such as the Olympics, according to the video marketing company.

Nike's 'Unlimited Youth' campaign tapped into humour and surprise rather than pure inspiration
Nike's 'Unlimited Youth' campaign tapped into humour and surprise rather than pure inspiration

At a presentation to clients in Tokyo on 21 February, Ian Forrester, Unruly’s global VP of insight, used analysis of emotional responses to branded videos around the past three Olympic Games to suggest what makes a piece of content successful in that context. The Olympics covered included Rio 2016, Sochi 2014 and London 2012.

Unruly assessed global share of voice for views and share of voice for shares. The most shared video of all time was P&G’s ‘Best Job’ from 2012. While P&G was an official Olympic sponsor, Nike also performed strongly as a non-sponsor, with both brands together accounting for 75 percent of shares.

Forrester noted that P&G launched its 2012 Olympic campaign well ahead of other brands, in April, which helped it to stand out. Nike dominated during the event itself, he said, on the basis of its inspirational content—reinforcing that fact that sponsorship is by no means essential or any guarantee of making an impact at a sporting event.

Unruly’s analysis showed that Adidas fared best at the end of the 2012 games, with a video celebrating the performance of British athletes. The brand exploited the sense of public euphoria to make its voice heard, which was “super clever”, Forrester said.

P&G continued to dominate in terms of views and shares in 2014, but to a lesser extent than in 2012, which Forrester attributed to a shorter period between campaign launch and the Winter Games itself. The Canadian Institute of Diversity (CIDI) fared surprisingly well with a humorous video that mocked Russia's homophobic stance by declaring ‘the Games have always been a little gay. Let’s keep it that way’. “It goes to show what can be done if you attach yourself to a social issue,” Forrester said.

By 2016, P&G had lost its dominance, according to Unruly’s research. Share of voice plummeted from 49 percent of views and 47 percent of shares two years earlier to 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Channel 4, a British TV station, took over with a video focusing on the ‘Superhumans’ of the Paralympics. Aside from the well-produced video, Forrester noted that Channel 4 was able to own that space, given that most other brands put all their energy into the main event rather than the Paralympics, leaving an open playing field in an area that can be just as emotive.

Forrester suggested other ways that brands can set themselves apart. Unruly’s analytics showed “a huge over-index of inspiration”, he said. With so many brands trying to create epic, moving content, only the very best gets noticed. Forrester gave the example of Chobani, a yogurt brand, which produced a rousing piece of content that many responded well to, but in the end fared badly in terms of brand recall.

“It’s hard to find a video that doesn’t try to be inspirational,” he said. “Another option is to go for lesser used emotions such as nostalgia, sadness or hilarity. If you can do those well, just by being different, you’re going to get your voice heard. Think about eliciting some more unusual emotions so your ad is different to the crowd.” He pointed to Nike’s ‘Unlimited Youth’ as a good example of using humour and surprise.

An element of surprise in particular “can amplify feelings of warmth and pride”, he said, adding that high production values and celebrities are not necessary in order to evoke an emotional response.  

Campaign Japan

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