by Mike Silver (@stretchmike) Global games need more hard-hitting global campaigns to realise gold from expensive investments.

While the athletes were preparing for battle at Rio 2016, spectators could have been forgiven for preparing for survival in the buildup to the Olympics. With Zika-carrying mosquitos, sewerage-infested sailing courses and underpaid police forces “welcoming you to hell”, HD live-streaming had never been so attractive. Threats aside, some brands appear to be only now waking up to the idea that activations of their prized properties needn’t be reserved for event locations only.

Focus up until recently

Until recently, brands took the opportunity to mainly focus on packaging, TV and B2B hospitality to bring their sponsorships to life outside ‘live regions’. As if consumers would be bowled over and powerless to opening their wallets purely because six circles appeared on soft drink cans.

“Free, all expenses paid trip to the Games?”

“Thanks, but I’m a little busy with work.”

A senior South African-based marketer from one of the games’ official sponsors told me it was struggling to find customers to send to Rio as part of its hospitality rights!

Why, in a communications world that has evolved quicker in the last 10 years than it did in the previous 50, are brands still slow out of the starting blocks to evolve?

Confused the means with the end

Global sponsorship expert, Kim Skildum-Reid, rightly points out that “[l]ogo exposure is not the cake or the frosting. It’s simply the cherry on the top.” We seem to have confused the means with the end itself. When it comes to sponsoring dynamic, live properties, the key to success is effectively embracing media that complement or bring real experiences closer to consumers.

Panasoic “Stadium of Wonders”

Panasonic has embraced that with its “Stadium of Wonders” which is being activated in both Rio AND Tokyo. The Tokyo activation has an immersive 360-degree technological experience that allows consumers to be virtually transported to the Rio site and spectators.

Lucozade Sports Condition Zone

At a different property, Lucozade (not even an official sponsor) decided to recreate the playing environment of the Brazil 2014 World Cup for amateur football players in chilly London. Humidified and heated courts mimicked the South American conditions, and players were fitted with smart devices to test how their (very amateur) bodies responded to these brutal conditions. The immersive experiential loop was closed (and broadened) with the entire interaction:

  1. linked to all 1 000+ player’s social media accounts and
  2. amplified through the involvement of former celebrity England players (used to exiting tournaments early due to ‘harsh conditions’, not a lack of talent)

London 2012 was seen as the first Games to truly embrace all that is social. You would be forgiven for thinking it took place 100 years ago, given the focus only on Facebook and Twitter!

Team USA and Twitter

The 2016 Games is as competitive in the cloud as on the courts. Twitter, recently overtaken by Snapchat, has come on board as Team USA’s official partner. With exclusive access to ‘behind the scenes’ team content, Twitter is roping in its recent Periscope and Vine acquisition partners to broadcast the game 24/7 via its on-site #Blueroom at Team USA House. A clever partnership with NBC is seeing cross-sharing of content between TV and social platforms. All of this has been while the Games have been trying to ban non-sponsors from mentioning the event on social media #outoftouch!

In this truly connected world, it’s about time brands stop spending millions to compete on the ground with Brazilian beaches, bums and brands, and start looking closer to home. The Games need to be the vehicle and NOT the destination to global partnership success. In the words of Francois Pienaar, it’s about “the 42 million” outside the stadium!


Mike SilverMike Silver (@stretchmike) is managing director of Stretch Experiential Marketing ( He established Stretch — a communications agency specialising in developing strategies and concepts for integrated brand-experience campaigns — after working in sponsorship consultancy and experiential marketing in the UK. He contributes the regular “Brand Experience” column, focusing upon broader integrated ‘brand experiences’, to MarkLives.

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