Sochi Olympics Gold Medal Winner: Content Marketing

“Content is the atomic particle of all digital marketing. Everything. There’s no owned media without content. There’s no social media without content. And there’s no paid media without content” – Rebecca Lieb, Altimeter

A few years back, when I was running digital marketing at a national food production and distribution company, part of the engagement strategy I created was around using images of our products as a way to drive engagement with consumers on our brand sites, Facebook, Twitter and beyond. I explained to our brand teams that images are very easy to share, and the speed at which they are shared can be explosive, like an atomic chain reaction. Our strategy worked. It worked really well. 

Earlier this week, during the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Springs, content marketing was a key topic. Jack Haber, vice president of global advertising and digital at Colgate-Palmolive, referenced Rebecca Lieb’s quote to help drive home a key point about using images. Today, as I’m getting caught up on the Olympics on my mobile devices, Facebook, Twitter and various news sources, I’m reminded of the power of smart content marketing during the Olympics – especially for brands that are seen everywhere during the games yet are not official sponsors and are some of the biggest brand winners.



One of the U.S. athlete stories getting a lot of coverage is about Kate Hansen, a luger who is now known for her pre-race warm-ups as well as her performance on the luge track. Photos of Hansen are all over my news feed on Facebook, news apps and video highlight reels. She’s clearly wearing Nike clothing, dancing with her iPod visible and her pink headphones. As with all Olympics, Nike is not an official sponsor yet gets amazing coverage of their hottest clothing, Apple is also not a sponsor but this coverage just drives home the “cool” factor of their products, and I bet we hear a lot more about the maker of those omni-present pink headphones she’s been wearing.

Another athlete getting a lot of attention is American speed skater Shani Davis. He was chasing a record for being the only speed skater in three straight Olympics. Davis didn’t hit his goal but he was certainly covered a lot and nearly every time was wearing Under Armour, giving that brand great coverage with an athlete that was going to be covered extensively, win or lose. Again, Under Armour isn’t an official Olympic sponsor. 

Big brands sponsoring athletes is nothing new. Smart brands understand the power of content, images and social sharing as a way to get into a global event without paying the “hefty” official sponsorship fees to the USOC. Are all the brands getting great product placement sponsors? No. But many are, and their placements are not accidental or mere coincidence. Time will tell who was sponsoring. One thing for sure is that the atomic power of the images and their shares will fuel people looking for products they saw their favorite athletes wearing. We’ve come a long way for waiting to see athletes arrive on Wheaties cereal boxes at the store. I’m sure that image will be public within hours of the closing ceremony and seen across the world in minutes. 

Photo content certainly attains the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius.”

Next story loading loading..