The First Transmedia Olympics
The London 2012 Olympics are being called the first “social Olympics,” and sponsors of the games are approaching their role in a different way than with past games, using an approach called transmedia storytelling.
Transmedia storytelling is an evolution from fully integrated marketing communications that has grown from our increasingly digital world. While integrated marketing communications leverage one message across multiple platforms, transmedia storytelling communicates different things within the broader strategy (or story) across multiple platforms and multiple audiences. As it continues to establish itself in the vernacular of the marketing community, transmedia storytelling is rapidly becoming the norm for advertisers. Sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Visa, and Samsung are all approaching the Olympics through a transmedia storytelling approach to create dynamic and relevant consumer experiences.
For London 2012, Coke launched its campaign called “Move to the Beat of London.” This transmedia campaign is grounded in music, but is being told through different pieces of content across multiple platforms. One key piece of content is the song produced by Mark Ronson that integrates the sound of athletes from around the globe mid-sport titled “Anywhere in the World.” Coke has also built the Beatbox Pavillion in the Olympic Village where park visitors can come and “play” the building like a musical instrument.
By the time the games are over, there will be over 100 pieces of content across multiple platforms -- which, when compared to the Beijing 2008 Olympics where Coke had a mere 10 pieces of content, demonstrates the scale and strategy needed to execute this much content across multiple platforms.
Like Coke, Visa has geared up for the largest campaign it has done to date. For London, Visa has crafted a transmedia campaign titled “Go World.” The campaign focuses on capturing the spirit of the games and celebrating the relationship between athlete and fan. Visa has sponsored athletes around the globe, calling the group of athletes “Team Visa.” Each athlete is being featured on television, YouTube, and Facebook with a short story of their Olympic journey. On Facebook, fans are asked to record a “cheer” for their favorite athlete that will be shared with that athlete during the Olympics. This gives consumers the opportunity to engage at a very personal level with athletes and other fans. Visa has put social media at the forefront of its campaign and is engaging consumers on multiple platforms around the globe.
The third example is digital powerhouse Samsung, which has built a transmedia campaign centered around technology. Leading up to the games, Samsung created different pieces of content targeted to audiences in different countries. For the U.S., Samsung created “The Samsung Genome Project,” which is a Facebook game similar to “Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon.” This interactive game helps fans answer the question “How Olympic Are You?” by determining how connected they are to U.S. Olympic team athletes.
Samsung also played a major role in creating events along the Olympic Torch Relay Route. At each event, there was an onstage performance followed by pyrotechnics during which the crowd was encouraged to give a “Big Cheer.” Samsung captured photos of the crowd during each cheer and provided the photos online so fans could go on and tag themselves. Similar to Visa and in line with its core product offering, Samsung’s campaign is predominantly composed of social media and mobile elements.
For each of these brands, transmedia storytelling allows them to reach global audiences on multiple platforms in a more engaging and holistic way. This year’s Olympics demand dynamic storytelling, entertainment, and rich engagement -- cross-platform and cross-consumer. For consumers who are watching and attending the Olympics, there will continue to be ample opportunity to be more involved and connected than ever before.
For marketers, transmedia storytelling involves a progression from integrated marketing, and can be valuable on a much smaller scale than the Olympics. As marketing becomes more complex -- with brands wanting to reach multiple consumer targets, more global brand expansion, and an expanding marketing toolkit -- this approach is a necessary evolution.
In order to work well, the story must have a strong and compelling idea and then use different elements of the marketing mix to tell different parts of the story. But transmedia storytelling is not for the faint-hearted. It is a complex approach that requires planning, commitment, and strong execution. One note of caution -- when they are not executed perfectly, these programs can fall short very quickly. But don’t let this discourage you. Transmedia storytelling is the way of the future.