Gold medal for marketers? Rio 2016 proved brands must aim even higher | M&M Global

Gold medal for marketers? Rio 2016 proved brands must aim even higher

Even brands that did well at Rio need to up their content game if they want a gold medal. Palle Diederichsen, head of MediaCom Beyond Advertising in EMEA, explains.

palle diederichsen

Right now the likes of Nike, Samsung are basking in the accolades. Like the multi-medal winning athletes that wowed us in Rio, these brands can legitimately claim to have deserved a medal or two.

But… if you take a look at their content strategies, you can see there’s scope for more than just marginal gains. The storytelling has been immense but the distribution and adaptation of that story has been much less impressive.

Let’s take Under Armour for example. It’s had a huge response to a powerful story about the ultimatel Olympian, Michael Phelps – a film that won the Grand Prix for Film Craft at Cannes Lions. It’s fantastic content with 11 million views on YouTube alone, but you have to ask why it’s been distributed ‘as is’ across platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, without any thought around whether it’s actually suitable in its current format. Average scroll time on a mobile means you are on screen for an average of less than two seconds – the opportunity on mobile-first platforms is very short.

This is not to single out Under Armour, because a host of other Rio brand winners have followed the same approach. Nike’s ‘Champions aren’t born’ film is on Instagram with 1.4 million views but again, little thought about how content is actually consumed on the platform. For instance, that (like on Facebook) most videos are viewed without sound. I could also go through campaigns from Samsung, Nissan, and McDonald’s, which all take a similar approach.

Tough task

Let’s be fair, brands have a tough task in today’s fast-paced online world – just getting the access to these sporting icons would be a dream for my team. Not only does the content have to be epic enough to become part of the conversation but they have to compete with the stories from the sports men and women who are backed by their rivals for public attention. Or whatever that day’s viral video happens to be.

But the complex online landscape, also means something else when it comes to distribution. The old challenge was that brands had to reach the right consumer at the right time. All the brands named above have done that, what they’ve got wrong is not recognise the new rules and nuances of each channel.

“Many brands are doing a great job in finding their way to the right audience but missing the opportunity to make it count even more”

Right people, right time is all very well but content also has to be in the right format. That’s because what might shine on one touch-point, may get lost in another. Today, the majority of content is not being optimised for the environment in which it is being consumed, hitting brands’ ability to capture attention and deliver effective brand messages.

When you’ve got these kinds of budgets, it’s not a question of cost to adapt the content, edit your videos (or any content for that matter) and make it more suitable. Paid opportunities enable you to rack up the numbers on any platform but the message delivered in the wrong format misses a huge opportunity to turn attention and drive recall.

Many brands are doing a great job in finding their way to the right audience but missing the opportunity to make it count even more by using the right type of assets for each channel. You can use the likes of Snapchat or Instagram to direct consumers to long-form content, but these aren’t the places where they will consume the long version. A bespoke, short version, however, is a different story.

Designed with connection in mind

The bottom line is that content should always be designed with connection in mind. As an industry we have to create assets that are ‘fit for purpose’ and shaped for the comms platform, which is based on a deep understanding of the way that people behave, and consume content in different environments.

That means understanding ‘User expectations and behaviour’ – what type of content are people expecting/wanting to see – on each platform. It also means having a tight grip on what that mean in technical terms, what are average viewing times, audio experience, or viewing orientation.

Platform nuances can be subtle but significant and minor creative tweaks can reap big rewards when it comes to brand recall and purchase intent.

As we celebrate the brand winners from Rio 2016, it’s clear evidence that we can do better; that brands can strive to achieve more at the world’s biggest multi-sport events.

The platforms we use for content distribution may have changed dramatically by the time Tokyo comes around in 2020 but the potential to be stronger, to go higher or to run faster exists for brands, as well as athletes.

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