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We’re just under two weeks until the Summer Olympics start in Rio de Janeiro.  Needless to say the run-up to these Olympics has been a bit of a circus - with the event seeming more like the trials of Job from the Old Testament than the fabled athletic event of ancient Greece.  But let us put all the gloom aside (and let’s acknowledge that every Olympics is besieged with doomsayers) to celebrate a global event that spotlights hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice.

First to the athletes themselves –a job well done. With the exception of a select few,  most athletes play by the rules and succeed through a combination of natural talent and training.  Most participate because of the love of the sport not for the fame or money that comes with their picture on a Wheaties box, dancing with Jimmy Fallon or appearing on a reality show. So kudos to all who get to stand on the podium to see their nation’s flag raised – and kudos to all those who won’t.

To the global spectators – simply enjoy.  Many “made for TV” events today are greeted with a level of consumer cynicism that at times seems to dim any positive experience.  Sure there will be manufactured moments designed to pull at the heart-strings or over-simplified good versus evil story lines pitting “us” against “them”, but there will also be many authentic moments highlighting incredible effort.  Those are the moments when being a spectator becomes something very much more than a passive experience.  They are the moments you can cheer out-loud, high-five those around you, and go to work the next day and ask “Did you see …?”   So enjoy the two weeks of the Games. Let it be a welcome reprieve and distraction from the recent news cycle.

To the marketers – thanks for your support. Brands that advertise within or around the Olympic experience are following the eyeballs and that’s smart marketing.  ZenithOptimedia estimates there will be more than 3.6 billion global viewers watching Rio 2016 and if past Games are an indicator that number will include nearly 60% of US households. US households that brands want to target as we move towards the important fall/Q4 selling season.   It might seem as though brands are going overboard to wrap themselves in Olympic fervor to the point of being a tad exploitive of the Games, but is that really wrong?  The Olympic motto “Citius - Altius – Fortius” means “Faster - Higher - Stronger.”  Not a bad ethos for a brand to want to be associated with, and not a bad value prop for any brand to incorporate into their messaging.  It often lifts the quality of a brand’s creative too. Considering some of the, shall we say, poor creative we often see in other major sporting events (Super Bowl advertisers please note) – show me someone’s mom and dad who sacrificed (financially!) so their child could achieve their Olympic dream. Emotion is powerful. Play to it.

To the broadcast/technology platforms – we’ll be watching and commenting.  NBCUniveral paid a massive sum for Olympic broadcast rights – and they plan over 6,000 hours of programming across various platforms.  It will be interesting to see how they manage content across their wired and mobile broadcast channels as well as their social channels. Of particular focus will be the consumer experience within their mobile channels as mobile will be for many their primary access point to Olympic content. 

And let’s not forget social.  The Rio games will be a social experience – consumers will be flocking to Twitter and Facebook for Olympic news – and brands will be building social experiences on Pinterest, Instagram and other social networks. These Games will be the most broadly experienced - ever – and powered by not the promise, but the reality of media technology.

So whether you’re behind the scenes or in front of the screen, enjoy the Games.  They are truly a rare moment when we (the global “we”) can experience an event that celebrates our best qualities.