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Sochi Games prompt sponsors to break new ad creative

Procter & Gamble is one of many Olympic sponsors breaking new creative during the Sochi Games.
The U.S. Olympic Committee and NBC said more companies broke creative during the 2014 opening ceremony than ever before.

Companies ranging from Procter & Gamble to Liberty Mutual all developed Olympic-themed advertising for the broadcast. The total number of Olympic sponsors advertising during the Sochi Games has risen from less than 10 to more than 15, and almost all of those sponsors developed Olympic-themed creative for the Games.

“It’s second only to the Super Bowl (in new creative),” said Seth Winter NBC Sports executive vice president of ad sales.

USOC Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Baird said that NBC’s promotion of the Winter Games and research showing that it would attract a large audience inspired many sponsors to advertise.

“The combination of what (NBC Sports chief marketer) John Miller has done to market the Games, and Russia is an enigma, a place of mystery and romance, and that has people wanting to see the Olympics,” Baird said.

NBC’s ad sales suffered during the Vancouver Games in 2010 because it took place at the end of the recession, but the economy rebounded and the Sochi Games will be profitable for the network. The number of sponsors the USOC has added since Vancouver helped NBC’s sales. Many of those sponsors will advertise during their first Winter Games, including Liberty Mutual, Chobani, Smuckers, Kellogg’s and USG.

Budweiser and Hilton are the only USOC sponsors that opted not to advertise during the Sochi Olympics, while Panasonic was one of the only consumer-facing sponsors of the International Olympic Committee not to advertise.

Liberty Mutual worked with its agency, Hill Holiday, to develop three spots that highlight comeback stories like Kerri Strug’s vault at the 1996 Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice” of the 1980 Olympics. It ties those stories of overcoming obstacles in sports back to people overcoming obstacles in life like the devastation of a tornado.

United, which hasn’t advertised during recent Olympics, is breaking a spot with a voice-over provided by Matt Damon. The 60-second ad, titled “Athletes Abroad,” features figure skater Gracie Gold, speedskater Shani Davis and 10 other Olympians.

“We’re pushing athletes and pushing sponsors to use them because we think they’re the best spokespeople in the world,” Baird said.

There were also national governing body sponsors breaking commercials during the opening ceremony. Century 21, which is sponsoring USA Bobsled, is running a spot with the tagline “Smarter. Bolder. Faster.”

“This Winter Olympics has come into its own,” Baird said. “We have a team America is really excited about.”

Sochi Olympic Advertisers
TD Ameritrade
Liberty Mutual
Procter & Gamble
Century 21*

* USA Bobsled sponsor

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NBC, Super Bowl, Olympics

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