Big Brands, Social Media, and the Olympic Games

Meredith Darling | @merdar London 2012  has been dubbed "the first social media Games" by Olympic bosses, and it's no surprise that big brands are leveraging their social media power more than ever to get get your attention during this Olympic season.

Commercial Sponsors

Due to global economic conditions, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has been forced to lean heavily on corporate brands. Sponsors like BP, BMW, Visa, Panasonic, and Coca-Cola have hit the ground running with Olympic-themed campaigns. Flag tags, Social Media Delivered, Olympics social mediaReaching Olympics fans via Facebook tabs seems to be the most popular route. Visa kept their original Facebook page but now posts Olympic-themed content roughly 80% of the time. Visa's "go world" Facebook tab allows you to submit a video cheering on athletes. Panasonic UK created a Facebook app that "paints your face" with your country's flag and Coca-Cola has a similar app that lets you create "beat" to your sport of choice.

BMW golden, Social Media Delivered, social media Olympics

BP created a Facebook page specifically for the summer games. The page has 88,000+ likes compared to BP America's page with 250,000+ likes. The target for them appears to be the green-conscious. Kudos to BMW for the most creative advertising initiative I've seen. Every day until July 25th they are giving away a pair of tickets to the London 2012 games to lucky golden BMW spotters. You can follow the car via Twitter, @goldenBMW. So who's on top? Sociagility has created a London 2012 Social Scoreboard to track and rank the performance of Olympic sponsors. Companies are measured by their website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels.

Non-Sponsors

The IOC and London organizers have limited advertising to sponsors that paid roughly $7.8 million to $155.4 million. Basically, unless you coughed up the cash, your business is banned from listing any part of their name with the Olympics. This includes any use of Olympic logos or even the use of words such as "London" or "2012" mixed with "medals" or games." Arena-area companies will be under the most scrutiny with 250+ police officers paroling the streets looking for violators to slap with hefty fines. Even Twitter has teamed up with the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games (LOCOG) to ban non-sponsors from purchasing promoted ads with the hashtag #London2012.

While it may be the social Olympics, spectators will have to think twice before blogging and snapping photos. Strict social rules extend past big and small businesses. The IOC is quite gifted in their guidelines at both encouraging and discouraging social media posting. We look forward to seeing what legal conflicts will ensue during these much anticipated games.