Brands at Sochi: The Winners and Losers

As the Olympic flame was extinguished on Sunday by a giant bear, the media has begun the scramble to recap, analyze, and criticize the Sochi games. The weeks of build-up were filled with scares of terrorism, government gay-rights suppression, and nightmarish accommodations for the media. Aside from a few instances of yellow tap water and wolf pranks, these games went off without any major issues.

While other outlets have analyzed the commercials and advertisements that aired to the US markets, here at CopyPress, we’ve scoured the web for examples of branding that actually made it in. With the IOC not allowing advertisers to have displays on the event grounds, some brands were able to find loopholes, and earn hours of valuable TV time to the entire world. Here’s a few of the big winners from Sochi 2014.

Nike

It should come as no surprise that Nike stole the show at the Sochi games. The Nike “swoosh” could be found on everything from the impossible-to-miss jackets that USA Olympians wore on the podiums, to the uniforms worn by Canadian, Russian, and Swedish hockey teams.

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Columbia Sportswear

American, Russian, and Canadian Freestyle Ski teams donned new gear developed by Columbia in the games, which has been received with rave reviews by the “snow” community. The jackets and pants featured new technologies such as “snow camouflage” that helps mask body movements, a seamless waterproof zipper, known as the LightRail zipper, and unique graphics depicting nation’s cultures in an edgy style.

Columbia made the decision to only approach freestyle ski teams in an attempt to make the technology be directly applicable to the consumer market of skiers around the world – the ones who aren’t wearing skin-tight speed suits to causally slide down mountains.

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BMW

In a move that left many scratching their heads, BMW partnered with the US Bobsled team to help them develop a new, high-speed sled to be used in the Two-Man Bobsled competition. The collaboration resulted in a silver medal and two bronze medals for the USA teams riding in BMW-designed sleds.

The real win by BMW was the publicity surrounding the partnership between the luxury car manufacturer and the sport of bobsledding. NBC constantly made note of BMW during their broadcasts, and showed training footage of the teams flying down the track in the sled, with the familiar BMW logo on the nose of the sled.

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Burton

A leader in the Snowboarding industry, Burton took center stage during the Freestyle events with their unique new style of jackets worn by the USA team. The jacket takes elements of military jackets, the American flag, and antique patchwork quilts.

Burton also took full advantage of the advertising real estate that snowboard affords. With most of the sport taking place in the air, spinning and upside-down, Burton made sure to place their name on the bottom of every board that their team riders used. With high profile riders like Shaun White and Kelly Clark as members of the Burton Pro Team, the underside of these athletes’ boards got more than its fair share of airtime during event broadcasts.

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Now let’s talk about a few brands that fell short.

Under Armour

Under Armour was set to be the big hit of the Sochi Games, with their revolutionary speed suit design that was developed with the aid of Lockheed Martin’s Missile Tech division. The suit, covered in small dimples, was meant to imitate the technology of a golf ball, using the dimples to cut through the air and shave off valuable seconds that make or break speed skating events.

Once the events began, US skaters who were favored to win events were coming up well short of their expectations. After gold medal favorite Shani Davis’ 8th place finish in the 1,000 meter, team members began ditching the suits for backups. The media caught wind, and Under Armour became the scapegoat for the failures of the team. Since the media frenzy, the US coaches have spoken out, deflecting blame from the suits. It’s worth noting that Under Armour’s contract with U.S Speedskating was renewed through 2022.

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Disney

I know this may sound like a stretch, but there was plenty of discussion about Disney during the games. Most notably was the comparison of gold medal winners Meryl Davis and Charlie White to Disney “royalty.” Twitter was ablaze with discussion of how Disney should make a movie about ice dancing, and cast these two as the lead roles. A perfect opportunity for Disney to swoop in and turn their success into marketing gold, but they passed on the issue and made no comments.

When you have the attention of the world, is there any company that should ignore it? In Disney’s case, they felt it was the right thing to do.

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Now that Sochi is behind us, the world looks forward to the next global sporting event, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. I’m certainly expecting to see some creative ways that brands will get their messages out to the world, as FIFA is much more open to on-site advertising.

Some of the brands that shined during Sochi will be right back at center stage in Rio, while the entire world watches on. What brands do you think will rise above the rest in Rio? Did we miss any that did a great job in Sochi?

About the author

Joe Fortunato

Joe Fortunato is a content marketer at CopyPress and is coming up on one year with the company. He went to Saint Leo University, where he studied Marketing. His hobbies include playing golf and brass instruments, cooking ethnic foods, and bass fishing. To find more of Joe’s published work, check out his Twitter profile.