Automakers Catches Olympics Fever

Followed by billions of sports enthusiasts across the globe both on TV and online the Olympics make for a supreme viewing experience – totally unsurpassed in terms of the variety – there is truly something for everyone. Rights are offered in 43 countries and territories within the region, covering exclusive free-to-air television and radio rights, alongside non-exclusive internet and mobile rights.

For automakers, the Olympics is all about getting the brand out there and reach the audience,  either on traditional, digital, online or social media platforms.

Toyota, for its part, announced in 2015 that it will be a top-tier Olympic sponsor — the first automaker to have that status — in a deal that runs through 2024. For now, as a sponsor of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Toyota will get a taste of the Olympics on a smaller scale, running TV advertisements in the country while collaborating with Japanese sports magazine Number to introduce the Japanese Paralympics and Paralympians.


Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda (left) and president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach pose for photographers during a news conference at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Ford, on the other hand, unveiled a Snapchat-style spot during the opening ceremony to complement the 30 Snap ads — 10-second ads that appear within Snapchat stories — that the automaker is targeting consumers with on the social network.


Chevrolet isn’t advertising during the Olympics, but the automaker is leveraging its sponsorship of U.S Soccer in a digital push.

Chevrolet is running a campaign in support of the U.S. Women’s National Team and its #SheBelieves initiative.  The #SheBelieves initiative, according to a Chevrolet spokesman, sends a message to young girls that they can accomplish all of their goals and dreams. 

Chevrolet released an online spot on Aug. 3 for the campaign. It also created a #SheBelieves Snapchat filter.

Chevy used a promoted #SheBelieves hashtag on Twitter on the day of the opening ceremony to boost exposure for the campaign.

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Watch #SheBelieves Video

BMW assist

BMW’s relationship with the Olympics goes far beyond advertising. The brand has developed technologies to help propel some Team USA athletes to gold.

BMW, a sponsor of USA Swimming and official mobility partner of the U.S. Olympic Committee, developed a motion-tracking system for swimmers that aids them in improving their strokes, a spokesman said. The tool generates real-time data that the swimmers can use to maximize their performance.


“Until now, swimmers have had to depend on the coach’s eye to help make adjustments,” a spokesman wrote in an email to Automotive News.

BMW is lending a hand to another partner, the Paralympic track-and-field team. The company said it used its automotive prowess to design and build a racing wheelchair that features “aerodynamic efficiencies” and a “carbon fiber material.” BMW designers collaborated with the team’s athletes and coaches on the project.

Four-time Paralympian Josh George takes the wheelchair for a spin in a new BMW spot airing during the 2016 Games, called “Built For Gold.” The wheelchair will make its competitive debut in Rio during the Paralympics in September.


“Our collaboration in creating the BMW racing wheelchair has afforded us a unique opportunity to become a part of their story, and to share that story with our customers,” Trudy Hardy, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America, wrote in an emailed statement to Automotive News.

Mini fights labels

Mini is confronting labels again during the 2016 games in a campaign featuring current and former Olympians.

Tennis star Serena Williams, who led a star-studded cast in Mini’s “Defy Labels” Super Bowl spot, is again headlining the next stage of the promotion.

Williams is joined by women’s boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields, beach volleyball player Jake Gibb, rugby player Carlin Isles, weightlifter Morghan King, swimmer Cullen Jones, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and boxer Carlos Balderas.


This is Mini’s second Olympics-driven ad blitz. During the 2012 games in London, the brand ran its “Win Small” campaign, which told viewers to dream big no matter what their size. 

“It isn’t about how people perceive you,” Tom Noble, Mini USA’s head of marketing, said of the “Defy Labels” campaign. “It’s what you do and how you overcome those labels. As part of the BMW Group relationship with the USOC, we were able to access the athletes.”


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