Paralympics 2016: Sponsors’ ‘sporadic’ efforts fail to engage

Despite standout campaigns from Samsung and Nissan, many sponsors struggled to create any significant level of discussion around the Rio Paralympics, with one expert questioning their commitment to the event.

Samsung Paralympics Rio

Ten of the biggest Paralympics sponsors only generated a combined 5,116 global mentions during the week-long Games, according to the latest Brand Agility Index study by PR firm Waggener Edstrom Communications [WE].

Having analysed all conversations and engagement levels from brands across news, blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, WE found Atos to be the most mentioned sponsor (1,658 mentions) followed by Samsung (1,028 mentions).

However, major brands such as Coca Cola only created 312 global mentions, with Panasonic (130 mentions) and Omega (64 mentions) faring even worse.

While you’d expect the Olympics to create the most amount of buzz, the gap with the Paralympics is pretty substantial. According to WE, the main 11 Olympics sponsors created 76,226 mentions compared to just 5,116 for the 10 main Paralympics sponsors.

Samsung 1,028 (global mentions) 114 points (total index ranking)
Visa 662 (global mentions) 93 points (total index ranking)
P&G 185 (global mentions) 89 points (total index ranking)
Coca-Cola 312 (global mentions) 88 points (total index ranking)
Nissan 420 (global mentions) 88 points (total index ranking)
BP 389 (global mentions) 74 points (total index ranking)
Atos 1,658 (global mentions) 71 points (total index ranking)
GE 268 (global mentions) 68 points (total index ranking)
Panasonic 130 (global mentions) 67 points (total index ranking)
Omega 64 (global mentions) 50 points (total index ranking)

The Rio Paralympics didn’t get off to the best start, with subdued ticket sales and claims of underfunding. And Gareth Davies, head of digital and insight at WE, believes sponsors were more subdued than four years prior at the London 2012 Paralympics.

“Overall the Paralympics had a very positive start for brands, but as the weeks went by efforts became sporadic, diluted and tired for the likes of Atos, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, BP and Omega.”

Gareth Davies, head of digital and insight, WE

“Samsung, Nissan, Visa and Coca-Cola all did well at maintaining regular and a clearly aligned brand narrative throughout the event, but the age-old question of ‘Is there budget to do this justice?’ does come to mind when looking at brand communication efforts post-Paralympics.”

The top Paralympics sponsors

Samsung, boosted by its Jack Whitehall-starring ‘School of Rio’ ads, was the standout Paralympics sponsor, according to WE, achieving 114 points for its performance. Visa (93 points) and Nissan (88 points) were not far behind as Omega (50 points) flopped spectacularly.

Davies adds: “Samsung and Nissan were the most consistent with their messages. Samsung’s School of Rio ad series was highly favoured by audiences for the authenticity of each ad. Nissan’s #DoItForUs hashtag and Team GB prank videos, which were reworked for the Paralympics, remained crowd pleasers.”

However, according to Davies, many of the headline sponsors didn’t work hard enough to communicate their interest in the Paralympics, with brands such as Visa even causing offence.

He concludes: “Brands like BP and Atos didn’t seem to plan ahead for the backlash they received from audience members regarding their interest for sponsoring the Paralympics. Both brands kicked off with a wide array of content, but clearly communicating their interest in sponsoring the games was left to question.

“Visa did well in keeping a regular flow of athlete congratulatory posts, but the decision to run a competition to win an Olympic outfit from an Olympic athlete felt somewhat random and insensitive – by focusing a competition on an able-bodied athlete.”

The Index ranking is compiled by rating brands out of five in areas including a campaign’s scalability, relevance, the speed at which it responds on social media, engagement, originality, personalisation and sentiment. WE achieves this by analysing all conversations and engagement levels from brands across news, blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and comments on YouTube during the tournament. In analysing the volume of mentions, WE focuses on mentions that specifically include both the brand’s name and a reference to the Olympics.



There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Stephen Marfleet 19 Sep 2016

    The problem with looking to engage with consumers is that the rules of engagement lie in the hands of the consumer. Shouting “engagement” is seen like a kryptonite to traditional marketing channels, but this just goes to show that in general consumers don’t want to start a conversation with a brand.

Leave a comment