Making it count

One of the strangest and eye-opening things that I have learnt in my feet-half-in-half-out experience of advertising concerns the number of regulations – the unfortunate, mean-eyed “can’t” and “no” in an industry fuelled by creativity and a lateral thinking mentality (or at least that is what the books say). This is particularly the case in regards to the Olympics, where brands are paying Burkina Faso GDP equivalents on sponsoring the big event. The ultimate question is, as L’Oreal infamously recognises, is it worth it? Are those cash-wielding companies welcomed by London’s Olympic Committee, and afforded the exclusive exposure associated with the event, achieving gold-medal ROI? According to the latest research the answer is no.

The research on web buzz – carried out by BrandWatch between 1st December to 7th February and commissioned by digital agency Jam, discovered that non-Olympic sponsor Nike is in fact the brand sprinting to the finishing line in terms of 2012 Olympic association with consumers. The brand appears to be dominating conversations on the internet, with a huge 7.7% of the conversations about the Olympics associated with the brand. By sorry contrast, Adidas is only pulling in 0.49% of conversations, despite a reported £100m sponsorship deal to be the official Olympic sponsor. This suggests that either consumers are frankly indifferent to where they see that pink squiggle of a logo (so long as sport is on the cards) or Nike has pulled off a Ursain Bolt of a campaign. I think that I will leave the answer to “ask the audience” – what do you think? However, perhaps even more mysteriously, HSBC received the second-most buzz on the web in relation to the Games, but trailing Nike with just 0.68% of the web buzz.

In January, Nike launched its “#Make it Count” campaign, which features a number of British, Nike-sponsored athletes, such as cyclist Mark Cavendish, Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, through black-and-white photographs. Each image shows a powerful insight of the athlete in action alongside their personal pledges for 2012 – ranging from the slightly sinister “I’ll return to deliver” (basketball player Luol Deng) to the ambitious “Remain the fastest, become the greatest” (cyclist Mark Cavendish). The idea is that this encourages everyone else to join in on Twitter, by announcing their own goals via the hashtag #makeitcount.

The campaign was created by Wieden + Kennedy London to the reaction of divided opinions on, the Simon Cowell of all comment boards, the Creative Review blog. While some have applauded the inspiring and personal nature of the adverts, inevitably doubters have crept in. Notably, the Nike + sign went down particularly badly, questions were raised about the messages’ authenticity – a bit of a whodunnit playing out on each athlete’s handwriting – and, my favourite criticism of all, one eagle-eyed reader commented on the spokes on Cavendish’s bike as “being put on”. Nevertheless, I like how this campaign focuses on the effort and stamina behind “making it count”, even if this hashtag leads to something rather ambigious, or genius given the brand’s Olympic association…


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