Paris Gets Ready To Welcome The World

For the first time in history, the Summer Olympics opening ceremony will not be held in a stadium. Instead, on July 26, Americans will be glued to their screens as athletes sail down the Seine to inaugurate Paris 2024. Interest in these Games is high: A quick poll of US online adults in Forrester’s market research online community shows that 41% plan to follow the Olympics very or fairly closely, a shade above the 38% who say they follow other sporting events with equal interest.

The audience for the Olympics views this event in a very different light than other sports they follow. The event represents grandeur on a global scale, the prestige of which is unmatched by most other sporting events. The Games foster both a sense of national pride and patriotism, as well as unity among the world’s nations. And unlike professional sports often marked by the tawdry antics of pampered celebrities, these Olympic Games are a paean to the grit of amateur athletes who rise above their ordinariness to be extraordinary.

There is something special about the Olympics; their signature moments resonate long after the event is relegated to the history books. When asked about what Olympics memories have left a lasting impression, respondents recounted to Forrester examples such as the unexpected 1980 “miracle on ice” US victory over the Soviet hockey team, Mary Lou Retton’s triumph at the 1984 women’s gymnastic events, and Michael Phelps’ record-breaking swimming achievements in 2008.

Brands Show Up At The Olympic Games

Companies who are looking to use the Olympics as a platform to promote their brands should consider the following:

  • The Olympics’ reach is different from that of most sports in the US. The audience is global and vast, and even though viewership numbers have declined since London 2012 (3.5 billion), Paris will likely command eyeballs in the range of 3 billion.
  • Unlike a Super Bowl-style hyper event, engagement during the Olympics will be spread over many days, with repeated opportunities for protracted engagement through multiple platforms. Rather than thinking of the event as one massive injection of reach and awareness, it is better to use the occasion to build deeper relationships with multiple forms of engagement.
  • The character of the Olympics is dramatically different from that of many other sporting events to which companies associate themselves. The extraordinary ordinariness of mostly amateur talent who scale unprecedented heights makes the events both relatable and emotionally potent. Brands looking to build equity rich in relatability and openness and to strike a chord with the everyday aspirations of common people will find the Olympics a worthy brand to cling to.

Sports And Brands Are Inseparable

From logo-emblazoned jerseys to extravagant Super Bowl advertising, brands have always sought to capitalize on the salience and emotional juggernaut that is sport. As companies look to deemphasize intrusive, interruptive advertising and prefer experiences and associations that show them in a positive light, sports become a vital channel for marketing to drive their growth strategy.

Curious about sports fandom in America? Read about the one game that rules them all.

Follow my research to uncover brand experiences and strategies related to sports. To stay connected to these topics and my other research, go to my Forrester bio and choose “Follow.” If you are a Forrester client interested in discussing these topics, please schedule time with me.