SBD/January 14, 2014/Media

NBC To Leverage 40% Increase In Olympic Ad Capacity, Push New Athlete-Based Promos

NBC is "about to trumpet its highest level of promotional backing" for the Sochi Games, as the net over the next four weeks will unveil "a flurry of new promos, as well as custom creative and editorial segments" focusing on the event, according to Mike Reynolds of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. NBCUniversal "has 40% more ad capacity than it had for the Vancouver Olympics" as a result of its acquisition by Comcast in January '11, including "20 broadcast and cable channels and more than 65 websites that are combining to promote the upcoming Winter Games." NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller said the effort will cap a long-term, eight-tier push that has yielded "billions of impressions." The net's spots "focus on such athletes as snowboarder Shaun White, skiers Julia Mancuso and Bode Miller, ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and speed skater Shani Davis." Skier Lindsey Vonn, who earlier this month withdrew from the Sochi Games due to injury, will "also be featured in a couple of promos that reflect her past performances." John Miller said that about 20 pieces of creative "had to be revised, and a pair focusing solely on Vonn were scrapped." NBCU has "invested much more in the out-of-home category this time around, with a 50% increase in this arena overall." Miller said of the effort, "Wherever there are screens -- doctors’ offices, gas stations, taxis, Walmart, fast-food restaurants and movie theaters -- we’re there." He added that the company also has "upped the promotional ante considerably on the digital/social fronts" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 1/13 issue).

RISK, REWARD: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Emily Steel wrote the Sochi Games are "forcing marketers who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the games to perform a careful balancing act." The Olympics "offer an unparalleled opportunity ... to reach billions of viewers around the world and align themselves with a blend of feel-good emotions tied to the glory of the games." However, potential security risks and human rights controversies in Russia are making the Games a "much riskier bet." Advertising next to coverage of a potential terrorist attack "would be disastrous." Marketing execs said that advertisers in this case "would likely pull their ads" (, 1/13).
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