The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is just around the corner, but you’d hardly know it based on the lack of advertising activity. In the face of political and pandemic-related challenges brands sponsoring the event have chosen to focus on the competitors or stay silent.
In the history of the Olympics, it is almost unheard of that most of the International Olympic Committee’s 13 top-tier sponsors – which include Coca-Cola, Visa, Airbnb, P&G and Toyota – have decided against rolling out advertising campaigns to leverage their considerable investment in being part of The Olympic Partner programme.
This frosty reception from advertisers can be attributed to the pandemic and the restrictions in China on advertising, messaging and marketing in general and also the very strict controlling of its media output.
If you combine this, with small live audiences of no more than 200 at each venue and the world’s media being completely isolated from any Chinese nationals, the cost of activating and implementing advertising campaigns around the Games could well outstrip the benefits.
It could also be argued that most of the brands predominately associated with the Games are keeping their powder dry for the World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year. However, the human rights issues around the host nation may well mean many brands are thinking twice about being associated with countries who continuously disregard the welfare of most people living there.
Could the pandemic have finally accelerated the push towards consumers only using, buying and associating themselves with brands who are attempting to help people, places and the planet and not sponsoring events in countries where their leaders are trying to overtly control, harm and hurt their populations?
This could well the beginning of the end for brands blanket sponsoring an event and instead see them choose which of the events they partner with based on the countries they take place in and said countries human rights record. This could be the watershed moment when the brand sponsorship model is completely changed.
Interestingly, next week on Sunday 13th Feb – is the Superbowl and all eyes will be on the ad breaks to see what brands will be doing during the world’s most expensive ad slots and how they work with global brands from now and going forward.