The Best of Rio Olympics Marketing

Olympic marketing swag

Photo courtesy Flickr user José Roitberg via Creative Commons license.

The 2016 Games featured plenty of marketing creativity

Last month, we previewed five things for marketers to watch for during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Ingenious brands and agencies didn’t disappoint, delivering many campaigns that will be remembered long after the last medal was awarded.

One of the most popular was this Michelob Ultra spot welcoming golf back to Olympic competition for the first time in 112 years. The brewer combined a unique bit of on-course footage with audio illustrating Brazil’s passion for soccer for an engaging and memorable ad. You can’t help but smile at this one, even if you’re not a golf fan.


AT&T’s “Keep Calm, Your Internet’s On” series actually premiered three months before the Games but got lots of airplay during the Olympic broadcasts. Clever sequencing and a healthy dose of comedy kept the series interesting. Complaints of real internet outages notwithstanding, the spots were well received.


The “Free Up Space” campaign from Google Photos, featuring selfie fails at moments all of us can appreciate, was a ton of fun. The mountaineer summiting at the 30-second mark is a classic.


United Healthcare’s “Pool Vault” spot, featuring a weekend warrior using a swimming pool net to demo his pole vault technique, was memorable.


Airbnb smartly figured Rio would have a hard time hosting all the city’s Olympic visitors via traditional tourist lodgings. The company secured an agreement to be the Olympics’ first-ever “alternative accommodations” sponsor, linked special landing pages to the Games’ ticketing platforms and produced Rio-specific “Stay With Me” videos. The video below shows how Airbnb’s creative team collaborated with local hosts to produce the spots.


Check out this great Digiday story on the endorsement prospects of Simone Biles, the U.S. gymnastics champ. With an inspirational story and engaging personality, diminutive athlete stands to rake in a substantial windfall following her five-medal haul.

Biles already has a substantial social media following. Kellogg’s capitalized on her reach before the games started, announcing Biles would appear on the brand’s Special K Red Berries box. Digiday reported 37 times more digital content engagement around the product after this announcement, while Biles was mentioned in 18 percent of all Rio-related digital content engagement for Nike, the most of any athlete under contract.

Here’s a link to a Bloomberg story about the success of the beer cups Brazilian brand Skol made for use across the Rio Olympic venues. There were a total of 42 representing Olympic sports, which attendees could collect and trade. Who would have thought sports fans would need an extra incentive to consume more beer? But there it is.

Finally, this one isn’t a campaign, but we can’t help but give a shoutout to Russia’s retro warmups, which were eye candy for many designers and font geeks.

Russia warmup


About Bill

Bill is VP, Content at AMA San Diego. He is a member of the sales team at Neil Patel Digital. He enjoys coffee, CrossFit, golf, traveling, current events and post-apocalyptic fiction. Find him on Twitter: @BillWinnSD