The Social Olympics Are Here: Is Your Favorite Brand Competing or Just Showing Up?


olympicsThere are not many institutions, much less sporting events, that rival the global reach and passion of the Olympic games.

And where there are big giant events, that gather more attention than Martha Stewart at a craft fair, brands will surely follow.

In the four years since the last summer Olympics, social media has done some growing up, in a big way.

  • Facebook had 100 million active users in 2008 (and beginning to get more buzz than MySpace) — Today Facebook is closing in on 1 billion active users
  • Since 2008, Twitter has grown from 6 million registered users to over 500 million today
  • Youtube was already a huge platform in 2008 with 10 hours of video uploaded every minute. Today they see 72 hours of video sent to the site every minute.
Brands are also invested in social media more than ever before. Promoted social media posts are the norm today, seen on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and more. And most big companies now have Directors of Social Media.

“We are going to see the use of social media surpass any sporting event in history,” says Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers.

We will likely see new records for Tweets per second and I suspect Micheal Phelps will have quite a few more Facebook fans by the end of the event.

But how are brands using social media during the Olympics?

It is all over the map as you might expect. Some campaigns are really unique and engaging and others just leave us, well, a little bored. Some of my favorites so far include AT&T, Samsung, and Coca-Cola.

Let’s take a closer look.


Coca-cola has a music centered campaign on Facebook and a custom mobile app (iPhone and Android). Once you connect to the My Beat Maker via Facebook, it incorporates olympic athletes, your own Facebook content, and builds an Olympic video based on those inputs.

The mobile apps are similar, but they let you mix your own music using the movement of your smartphone, and of course share that beat. Both are well done and I found myself spending more time with the mobile app than I expected.

“My Beat Maker uses amazing technology to detect the movements of your phone and transform them into music.” – from Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola Olympics "My Beat Maker"

Coca-Cola Olympics "My Beat Maker"

Coca-Cola Olympics "My Beat Maker"

Coca-Cola’s Tumblr is also in the game incorporating Olympic themed animated gifs, integration of Olympic athlete Shawn Johnson, and even a custom Olympic Tumblr theme for their fans.

Coca-Cola Olympics

Coca-Cola Olympics

Coca-Cola Olympics


As reported by the NY Times, P&G is leading the way with a big social media Olympics push. “P&G has unleashed a far-ranging social media initiative, as part of a broader marketing campaign called “Thank You, Mom,” which highlights the behind-the-scenes roles that mothers play in the lives of Olympic athletes — and in the lives of lesser mortals.”

And P&G, of course, has their own team of brands geared up for the games. Most P&G brands have the Olympics in their branding as official sponsors or mention the “summer games” in their content on Facebook and Twitter. Across all the brands, there is a remarkable amount of clean Olympic branding, that you would expect from P&G. And yet, it is impressive.

Not every individual P&G brand is doing something breathtaking on the social front, but they are all taking advantage of this cultural hit in one way or another. In an effort not to fill this list with all P&G examples, we took a look at just four of them below.


Gillette (P&G) is tied itself to the coattails of a few athletes of note, the two of note being swimmer Ryan Lochte and sprinter Tyson Gay. Lochte has already won his first gold and Gillette was there before and after the win with posts of encouragement and congratulations.

The #LochteNation hashtag was even trending at one point. So far so good.

This video and the live light show in Boston has also generated some high levels of social response.


Duracell (P&G) has a physical presence in London, which I would love to hear more about but maybe they have not rolled out all those details yet? Their Facebook and Twitter messaging are geared towards showing support for the athletes by sending messages of support in the “Virtual Stadium.” A for effort, but not really blowing my socks off.

Duracell Olympics


Tide (P&G) has a presence in London (like fellow P&Ger Duracell) and is building a Facebook campaign in the US focused on what the Red, White and Blue means to you.

Tide Olympics

This fan response campaign seems to be the most common for brands on Facebook for the Olympics. The Tide campaign, asking for what America means to you, is a bit unique. Visa and fellow P&G brand Duracell are asking fans to sending messages to the athletes at the games in a similar format.

Tide Olympics


Bounty (P&G) is focusing on Twitter, even pushing their Facebook fans over to Twitter, for their #bringit chat targeted for parents. It is not clear whether or not the chat will happen again past the Olympic opening ceremonies.  The hashtag even has a home on the Bounty Facebook cover photo.

Two things I am unsure of here. One, do parents really want to tune away from the Olympics to talk about parenting on Twitter? And two, they need a more unique hashtag. If you go browse the current #bringit hashtag, much of it is not Bounty related. We had a similar issue with the #sofresh hashtag when it was our Twitter tag of choice in the early Social Fresh days.

Bounty Olympics


Omega has enough face time at the games that they probably feel like they do not need to do much more online to get the results they want. They have been the official timekeeper for 25 Olympic games, including London in 1948. Nothing too original on Twitter or Facebook from them, but they are front and center in featuring their official sponsorship of the games. Their branding and voice are also very classy and consistent.

Omega Olympics


AT&T is featuring a fan selected Olympic athlete on their Facebook cover. They first uploaded photos of each Olympian and asked fans to choose who would be featured by liking the athlete of their choice. The photo with the most likes became the cover image.  AT&T Olympics

The first athlete to grace the cover is Alex Morgan of the US Women’s National Soccer Team. Of course, also featuring an AT&T handset for good measure.

AT&T Olympics

The full campaign connects to AT&T’s “My Journey” campaigns which tells the story of select Olympic athletes, with corresponding Youtube videos and commercials.


Visa’s “Go World” campaign is the ” largest global and most social marketing campaign in the company’s history” according to the brand. In the 11 weeks leading up to the games, it generated 28 million “cheers” for Olympic athletes. Facebook users can log in and submit encouraging cheers for their favorite athlete, country, or sport. Or the Olympics as a whole, which was an odd option.

The cheers can be a personalized video, photo or text and requires connecting to the app via Facebook. You can explore the cheers of others, but the engagement was a bit light. This Visa campaign may not be huge on engagement or interaction, but it has generated 1.9 million likes for the brand already. Can’t argue with those numbers.

Visa Olympics


Panasonic has created one of the best apps of the entire Olympics, namely their Flagtags Facebook app that allows fans to create an avatar of themselves with their country’s flag “painted” on their face. I love the simplicity, originality, and accessibility of this campaign. Very smart.

Evidently they have a few apps on display during the games.


GE has always been one of my favorite brands on Instagram. And during the Olympics they continue to share amazing images, that always seem to be relevant to the brand.

One image below shows an Olympic swimmer with a cutaway of the swimmer’s muscles and internal mechanisms as their imaging technology would show in real life. The other image showcases London Bridge which, according to GE, is “outfitted with the Olympic rings and 1,800 GE LED lights.”

GE Olympics GE Olympics


Samsung has at least two social campaigns running during the Olympic games.

Their Samsung Global Bloggers program was a competition where bloggers across the world were able to apply (in the US they submited videos) to be selected to attend the London 2012 Olympics on behalf of Samsung, and of course blog about the 3 week sporting spectacular. Each country selected their own winners, in the US, 4 bloggers were sent across the Atlantic.

The winners received a paid trip to the Olympics, two free tickets, a Samsung Galaxy Note or Samsung Phone, a one week hotel stay, and they could be featured on a billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus.

Pretty big prize for the bloggers who got to attend. See their bloggers in action here.

One of their other Samsung campaigns is a Facebook app, the Olympic Genome Project connects Facebook users to Olympic athletes in the style of “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

From the Samsung Facebook page “The U.S. Olympic Genome Project by Samsung allows everyone to find out how Olympic we all are. Take quizzes and answer questions to see how you’re connected to TEAM USA athletes. You can also invite your friends and compete to see who’s more Olympic!”

Samsung Olympics


McDonalds is pulling out their Monopoly magic, with game pieces on only their healthier products (400 calories or less) at There are instant prizes as well as prizes that can be won when the US wins specific events related to your game pieces. The online elements promote the game piece campaign and allow a portal for tracking your product.

McDonalds Facebook OlympicsMcDonalds Facebook Olympics


Who did we miss? Please add them in the comments!


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