SBJ/Aug. 4-10, 2014/Olympics

Two years out, NBC starts touting Olympics

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NBC Sports this week will roll out its most extensive two-year-out campaign for an Olympic Games.

The group will air 15- and 30-second spots on Tuesday, two years ahead of the opening day of the 2016 Rio Games. The spots, which were still being developed last week, are designed to remind viewers of “the spirit, excitement and drama of the Olympics,” said John Miller, NBC Sports Group’s chief marketer.

Commercials will air between 7 p.m. and midnight on NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBC’s regional sports networks. A special spot reminding viewers that golf returns to the Olympics in 2016 will air on Golf Channel.

NBC Sports will complement the linear advertisements with a video narrated by Bob Costas on NBCOlympics.com. It also put a custom countdown image on NBC Olympics’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus platforms.

“This is the first time we’ve utilized our full platform to signify the Olympics are two years away,” Miller said. “It’s a simple message … to remind people it’s two years away.”

NBC earlier this year signed a $7.75 billion deal with the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the Olympics through 2032. The company will spend $1.22 billion in rights fees on the Rio Games.

Miller acknowledged the two-year-out promotions were small and compared them to an anniversary card a husband gives his wife.

“It’s not a huge thing, but you want to be sure you do it,” Miller said. “I don’t expect the American public to mark their calendar, but by the same token, to celebrate two years out, internally and externally, seemed like a good thing.”

NBC Sports typically waits until a year before an Olympics to start promoting coverage and athletes. Miller said that it will wait until August of next year before it rolls out additional spots about Rio 2016. Those spots will be designed to raise viewer awareness about athletes, sports and stories NBC will likely tell during the Rio Games.

“We use a motto: Make them care,” Miller said. “Make them care about athletes. Make them care about the message of the Olympics. The idea of the campaign is to make [viewers] care.”

The U.S. Olympic Committee also is planning to make a promotional push this week. Unlike NBC, its efforts are focused on public relations and social media.

The organization will have feature stories about potential 2016 Olympians on TeamUSA.org. It also will direct people to those stories on social media by using a special hashtag (#roadtorio). The USOC previously used a “Road to Sochi” slogan to promote athletes and events leading up to the most recent Olympics.

“We’re turning the light on [our Olympics promotion] a little earlier in hopes we can get more interest in all the sports and not just the ones they’re used to during the Olympics time,” said Patrick Sandusky, USOC chief communications officer.

Both Miller and Sandusky said that high viewership of the World Cup in the U.S. influenced their decisions to begin promotions for the 2016 Rio Games earlier than previous Olympics. The World Cup final, which drew more than 20 million viewers in the U.S., was played in Rio and featured images of the city’s famed Christ the Redeemer statue at sunset.

“People have positive feelings about the World Cup,” Miller said. “It’s not a bad thing to take advantage of those positive feelings.”

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