London 2012: Brand winners

As the curtain closes on the London 2012 Olympic Games, Marketing Week picks out the best marketing campaigns showcased at the London 2012 Games.

Adidas – Take the Stage

If you didn’t know at the beginning of the London 2012 Games that Adidas was a sponsor, you certainly do now. Whether it was Jessica Ennis’ gold medal win, Greg Rutherford’s leap or Mo Farah’s double gold,the sports brand has been intrinsically linked with the success of the Team GB athletes. Add to that, Adidas’ claims that it has already recouped its £100m investment in sponsoring the Games it’s clear to see the Take the Stage’ marketing campaign has resonated globally with people.

British Airways – Home Advantage

British Airways (BA) risked the wrath of the outbound travel industry with its Olympics sponsorship activity by declaring “Don’t Fly. Support Team GB.” The bold strapline has appeared on outdoor posters, in national newspapers and on Twitter where the business is using the hashtag HomeAdvantage to rouse support for Team GB. The airline launched some of the best topical ads during the Games, supporting athletes ahead of their events. It may not be flashy but it’s these types of executions that resonate and help create a halo effect between athlete and brand. You don’t always have to be the loudest to be heard and BA’s campaign shows that.

P&G – Proud Sponsor of Mums

The FMCG company has a lot riding on its Olympic strategy. It was conceived as the launchpad for its first global corporate push, which aims to unite all the company’s products under the P&G branding for the first time in its 174-year history. P&G’s strategy puts mums front and centre to the point where it even eschewed the traditional “Proud sponsors of the Olympic games” signoff of IOC partners and instead uses the campaign line, “Proud sponsors of Moms” to end all its television commercials and viral videos. It takes a lot of confidence (and a lot of clout) to do this on as grand and emotional a scale as P&G did it.

Winners: Non-Sponsors

Beats by Dr Dre

Australia’s track cyclist Amy Cure uses a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre ahead of a race at the Velodrome during the London 2012 Games.

It’s not a sponsor, but the rapper’s headphone range was perhaps the biggest winner of this year’s Games given the amount of attention it generated through a clever ambush stunt. The brand set up shop a hop, skip and a jump away from the Athlete’s Village in East London and invited Olympians to visit during their downtime and receive a free pair of headphones. Team GB athletes, Chinese gold medallist swimmer Sun Yang and virtually every member of the US swim team were seen sporting the goods by millions of viewers during the Games. For what probably amounted to very little investment from the brand, Beats By Dr Dre succeeded in gatecrashing the London Games.

Nike – Find Your Greatness

The serial Olympic gate crasher had been building up to the Games since the turn of the year with its Make it Count campaign, which featured Team GB members including Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe making personal pledges for 2012. Its lime green trainers were ubiquitous and its Games-time ‘Find Your Greatness’ spots featuring everyday athletes from multiple locations called London around the world created a powerful message at a time when the world was focused on London.


Paddy Power – We Hear You

As Olympic fever gripped the nation, some non-Olympic sponsor brands pushed the strict rules on ambush marketing to the limit, launching a flurry of advertising campaigns designed to steal the limelight from companies that have paid millions to be associated with the 2012 Games. Non more so than bookmaker Paddy Power’s outdoor stunt, claiming to be the official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London (France). Rather than the Olympics, the brand was actually talking about an egg and spoon race in London, France.

And a loser



The financial firm’s first Olympic sponsorship, signed in 1986, featured the now iconic strapline ‘Bring your Visa, because the Olympics don’t take American Express’. The campaign saw the brand rise to ascendancy in the years that followed. Twenty-six years on and the role of sponsorship has changed considerably. Once a way to show off a product, the role of sponsorship now is to drive customer engagement. Visa’s enforcement of its payment monopoly, including removing all other ATMs from Olympic venues, did not enhance the fan experience. Its London 2012 slogan, “proud to accept only Visa” compounds this. Exclusivity is one thing. Inconveniencing millions of potential customers is something else.