The Olympics has been compelling viewing since the opening ceremony.

And the time difference has meant we wake up every morning to find out which GB athlete, whom I’ve never heard of, winning a medal in a sport I know nothing about!

And the backstories of our medallists has been compelling viewing. Well done Team GB

Gold medals shared, no spectators, mixed medley relays in swimming and mixed triathlon relays, new sports such as skateboarding, surfing, baseball/softball, karate and sport climbing has made this Games unique. Let alone the fact that this is the first Olympics that has ever been postponed and taken place the year after!

But how did the IOC (International Olympic Committee) keep everybody’s interest alive after the opening ceremony and through the pandemic? Christopher Carroll, the Olympic Games’ Director of Digital Engagement and marketing guru, changed the direct-to-consumer (DTC) model to DTP – direct to people.

People worldwide were only able to connect digitally. So Carroll and his Olympic team changed their strategy to a multi-channel content approach that tapped into the public’s desire to connect.

The Drum interviewed Carroll back in July last year, and he explained:

“We need to think globally but act locally, serving a personal and localised experience. If you’re a hockey fan from Glasgow and you exchange your preferences with us, we’ll be able to cater your content preferences through our Olympic channel as well as through our digital partnerships.”

Caroll’s and his team created the inspiring message #StrongerTogether that was the centre of the digitally-driven DTP campaign. The promotional video was the first of many to inspire and keep the torch lit in the hearts of the fans. The #StrongerTogether YouTube series of videos draws from the legacy and stories that many famous Olympians have left us from the past and promotes well-known present-day Olympic stars.

Creative content, including interactive events, virtual experiences and stunning videos telling the stories of our most successful and famous athletes, formed the heart of the campaign, engaging and building a digital community around the 2020 games. See below the One Year Out video the first in the #StrongerTogether YouTube series and also one of the later videos featuring Olympic star Tony Hawk.

How to stay relevant and top of mind

Ok, you may ask, why am I telling you this story? The IOC maintained momentum in keeping the Olympics top of mind during the past year despite COVID forcing its postponement. We all need to keep our brand top of mind with our customers and prospects, whatever market we are in, and we can all learn from the IOC campaign. It is vital to keep your campaigns relevant and connected to your audience to keep their attention – whether they realise it or not!

Even global brands don’t take their customers for granted. So, for example, you may think that Coca-Cola rules the soft drink market and doesn’t have to try that hard to keep ahead of the competition. But this excellent corporation doesn’t sit back on its laurels; it knows it has to keep reminding people why Coke is the best.

And the Olympics is an excellent opportunity for them to keep brand awareness high as it ‘has been associated with the Olympic Games continuously since 1928, longer than any other corporate supporter’ as quoted on their website.

The Coca-Cola brand benefits hugely associating with the Olympics and have played a massive part in its success over the years. If Pepsi had officially sponsored the Olympics instead of Coke, would Coke still be the industry leader? That’s not a risk Coca-Cola are willing to take!

“You want to take the love that people have for the Olympics and use that to borrow that equity for your brand,” explains Elizabeth Lindsey, president of brands and properties at Wasserman, US-based sports marketing company.

Coronavirus also creates an opportunity for these brands to be seen as not giving up on the Olympics, much like the actual athletes. “There’s an opportunity for even greater brand affinity if you don’t just abandon them,” Lindsey added.

Lessons to be learned

Christopher Carroll summed up the marketing lessons he has learned in his time at the IOC in The Drum interview. “You need to live agile, live the fans’ lives,” he explains, urging marketers to put themselves in the shoes of the public when making any decisions.

At the same time, he says, marketers need to adopt the Olympic athlete mindset.

“Your training phase is only as good as your preparation phase. The preparation phase is only as good as the performance phase. And your performance phase is only as good as your recovery phase.”

To finish up, I’d like to share some of the most inspiring Olympic ads to inspire you for your next campaign. And remember, we are here to help you grow your brand and create great campaigns to keep you connected with your audience and ahead of the game. Call us on 01491 575057 or email