Summer Olympics: What to watch for…

Many are calling the London Games the first ‘Social Olympics’.  It is crazy to think just two years ago in Vancouver popular social networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ didn’t even exist.  Facebook had half its current number of users and Twitter was still in the bird’s nest.  As we approach the opening ceremony on July 27th  the landscape looks much different now.  In addition to enjoying the games themselves, there are a variety of sports business stories worth keeping an eye on.  Here are a few things to watch for:

Live Streaming:  For the first time ever, NBC will live stream each of the 302 events throughout the games on NBCOlympics.com (http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/).  They are calling this Live Extra and Citi is the presenting sponsor.  Users will be required to perform a simple account verification tied to their TV provider.  There will also be tablet and mobile applications to complete the ‘TV everywhere’ model.  All of this is free as long as you are a cable or satellite customer and your package includes CNBC and MSNBC.

Sponsor Activation: 

Coke is running several initiatives tied to music, the athletes and mobile.  (http://www.coca-cola.com/theolympics/en-US).  The ‘Move to the Beat’ app allows fans to mix their favorite music with their favorite sport and share with the world.  Coke also produced an Olympic theme song of their own performed by Mark Ronson and Katy B.  Coke’s 8 pack of athletes features Olympic and Paralympic athletes across a variety of sports.  Fans can learn about their backgrounds, cheer them on virtually and win prizes tied to the My Coke Rewards program.  To support sales, fans can also participate in Coke’s ‘Twist and Text’ under the cap promotion by purchasing Olympic branded 20oz bottles and text to win prizes.

Visa is celebrating their 25th year as an Olympic sponsor with their Go World campaign.  Fans are encouraged to cheer on the athletes with customized messages using Visa’s Facebook app (https://www.facebook.com/visa?sk=app_258909720846342).  There is also a sweepstakes overlay to win a chance to attend the Olympics for life (http://usa.visa.com/personal/visa_brings_you/win_with_visa/tripforlife2012.html).  On site Visa will focus on payment technologies and convenience for their cardholders with contactless cards, mobile payment and prepaid cards.

Samsung created the Olympic Genome Project app under the tagline “How Olympic Are You?” where fans can discover what they have in common with the athletes, make connections and win prizes (https://www.facebook.com/samsunggenomeproject/app_197458140327772).

P&G is the ‘Proud Sponsor of Moms’ this Olympics.  Leading up to and during the games, fans will see emotional TV spots showcasing moms’ dedication to helping their young athlete’s dreams come true.  Fans can also thank their moms on the ‘Thank You Mom’ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/thankyoumom).  At retail, P&G partnered with fellow USOC licensee WinCraft to roll out an extensive Olympic themed merchandise program at 2,300 Wal-Marts throughout the U.S.

Social Olympics:  Facebook launched a dedicated page named ‘Explore London 2012’ featuring news, updates and content from the athletes.  (https://www.facebook.com/pages/olympics) Athletes will share stories, pictures and communicate with fans.  Similar to the sponsor free environment of the events, there will be no advertising around this platform.

The IOC partnered with Foursquare to encourage fans to check in at Olympic venues leading up to the summer games.  Users earn Olympic themed badges and are entered into a sweepstakes to win a trip to London.  (https://foursquare.com/olympics)

Twitter will play a huge role between the athletes, media, sponsors and fans.  Expect to be inundated with hash tags and Twitter handles everywhere you look.  Previous global sporting events like the Super Bowl, World Cup and the recent Euro Finals set records for Tweets per second.  It won’t be surprising to see similar results during the Olympics.  (https://twitter.com/#!/London2012)

Fans can also visit the Olympic Athletes’ Hub, which aggregates the verified social media feeds of current and former Olympians.  This includes Facebook and Twitter along with a gamification aspect to encourage fan interaction.   (http://hub.olympic.org/)

Enjoy and let the games begin…