How 10 London Olympics sponsors are harnessing social media

Facebook is the darling of this year’s games as several large brands launch campaigns on the social network around their Olympic sponsorship.

The 2012 Olympic Games in London have already been labeled the “Social Media Olympics,” but upon closer inspection of the planned activity of the sponsor family, the “Facebook Olympics” might be more appropriate.

In fact, it highlights a worrying trend that brands (and their agencies) seem drunk on the perceived power of Facebook apps to encourage engagement.

Instead of waxing lyrical about Facebook (although that would be fun), let’s take an in-depth look at the Olympic sponsors and the campaigns they’re launching in the lead up to London 2012.

This is by no means a definitive list, but will give you a flavor of what is happening now and what we can expect in about 50 days time when the games begin.

(Make sure to also check out this great live Olympic sponsor activation tracker from my pals at Sociagility.)

1. Panasonic Flag Tags

Panasonic has taken a traditional offline activity (face painting) and given it an online life with the Panasonic Flag Tags app.

Simply upload a picture, run it through the app, and you get a patriotic flag face picture, which you can post to your Facebook wall or set as your profile picture. League tables are also available, showing which country is “showing their colors” the most.

Create your own Flag Tag here.

2. Samsung “Everyone’s Olympic Games” app

Samsung is also using Facebook, but in a very different way.

Considering Samsung are doing so much around the Olympics, the establishment of the “Everyone’s Olympic Games” hub makes perfect sense (although it initially feels a little too Samsung-centric on first look).

Visitors to the Samsung U.K. page can access The “Everyone’s Olympic Games” hub, which includes a variety of Olympic-related features.

The most interesting tab within the app is the Samsung Global Blogger area. It brings together the work of the global blogger team (including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver) that’s reporting on various things around the Games.

3. Visa Cheer/Go World

Visa is also using Facebook as its central hub for Olympics fans, pulling in content and activity from several places and platforms.

The “cheer” element of the campaign is an interesting one, although hard to articulate. In Visa’s words, it hopes “cheering” will join other popular social actions such as “pinning” and “liking.” These are lofty aspirations, and time will tell if they are reachable or not.

4. P&G Olympic Mums/Moms

P&G is another brand doing quite a lot around the 2012 Games.

One of the social media channels it has embraced with great conviction is YouTube, evidenced by the Best Job – P&G London 2012 Olympic Games Film, which ties in to its “proud sponsor of Mums/Moms” push.

The film has had more than 4 million views and probably racked up a million or so crying moments as well.

5. BP looks to Facebook, too … with mixed results

One of my pet peeves is Facebook pages set up for campaigns or specific time periods. It tells me that as soon as the “used by” date has passed, the Facebook page will fold. This creates a huge barrier for people who want to get involved in a page when they know any time they spend investing in it will be wasted in the long run.

The Samsung App approach is a much better strategy, pulling people in through the on-going brand page presence and then directing people to content based on orchestrated calendar.

BP have selected to go with a London 2012 Facebook page, but judging by its low “people talking about this” number (in relation to the total fan community) it is struggling to captivate its audience.

6. British Airways takes control of the #HomeAdvantage

British Airways (BA) is also doing a great deal around the Olympics, and—surprise, surprise—Facebook is going to play a big part.

It looks like BA will make the #HomeAdvantage hashtag part of its activity, but hasn’t (as yet) “claimed” the tag at or

The tag is also used in everyday tweeting so “owning” it is a challenge, but it means it will be used as a natural tag, too, which may help amplify efforts.

The Home Advantage video above gives you a fuller flavor for what BA has in mind.

7. BMW wants you to “spot the gold,” online and offline

The premise for this one is simple: “The #GoldenBMW convoy is touring Great Britain. Spot It. Snap It. Share It. to win tickets to the London 2012 Games.”

This activity is taking to regional U.K., generating buzz along the way and using the prize of Olympic tickets to encourage participation. Follow the action via the Twitter feed @GoldenBMW.

8. Omega thinks its time for Twitter, too

Omega is drawing on the Rolling Stone classic “Start Me Up” as the backbone of its Olympic activity. Last week, it aired its Olympic TV commercial (see above) on YouTube, but has made the classic mistake of featuring its target URL at the bottom of the description (as opposed to the very top), which decreases the likelihood of referrals significantly.

The supporting press materials encourage people to join the conversation by using the #startmeup hashtag, but it isn’t completely clear how they intend to do this (yet).

9. Cadbury serves up a virtual ‘pump up’ via Facebook

Cadbury U.K. started its Olympics efforts early with its spots versus stripes activity.

More recently, it asked fans to join a virtual march to support their Olympic heroes via a Facebook app, which could be shared to create a crowdsourced super march.

The video (complete with “Eye of the Tiger” as the backing track) gives you the full scoop.

10. Coca-Cola’s heritage in the Olympics and music join forces

Coca-Cola is aiming to power the biggest global collaboration in music history by giving fans across the world the tools to create an Olympic beat. The campaign is fronted by Mark Ronson, and it includes integration with Facebook and even has apps on iPhone and Android.

The Facebook beat maker app is quite fun as it analyzes your social activity to create the “sound of you.”

Check out my tune here.

(Disclaimer: Coca-Cola is a client, but I have no involvement in the Olympic activity featured here.)

A version of this story first appeared on


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