SOURCE: A.T. Kearney

A.T. Kearney

August 08, 2012 10:00 ET

A.T. Kearney Olympic Advertisers Study Can't Find a Social Media Gold Medalist

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Aug 8, 2012) -

  • 50% of advertising brands fail to make any reference to digital world
  • Only 10% of advertisers included Facebook, Twitter or YouTube links
  • 3 of the 11 global sponsoring brands didn't advertise at all

Continuing its search for Social Media intelligence in the branding universe, A.T. Kearney this week conducted an intensive global study of advertising during the July 27th Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Advertisers Study, which analyzed primetime television advertising content during the 2012 Opening Ceremonies across six continents, captured 246 television spots placed by 140 brands across eight countries. The findings show a nearly complete rejection of social media by advertisers, with 50 percent of the spots making no reference to the digital world whatsoever. The study awarded higher rankings to global advertisers according to three metrics around digital media -- but it failed to find a gold medal winner.

Observed Jim Singer, study sponsor and a partner in A.T. Kearney's Consumer and Retail Industries Practice, "For an event that was billed as the 'Twitter Olympics,' it was populated by a set of sponsors that rarely left the purview of conventional marketing and barely dipped into social media. Advertising by these mega-brands seems to be sticking to an analog go-to-market mindset in an increasingly digital-community minded world."

Sponsoring Brands Misfire on Social Media
In an event that captures the attention of 1.3 billion people worldwide, three of the eleven sponsoring brands didn't purchase primetime television spots during the Olympic ceremonies. Of the eight brands that advertised, none covered all the surveyed countries, and only the U.S. saw ads from all seven of its participating sponsors. Out of four McDonald's ads, only its Polish spot contained any digital content -- the others were two U.S. spots and one in Brazil -- this one referring viewers to a website featuring Olympic promotional merchandise.

Of the 50 percent of advertisers who made any reference to the digital world whatsoever, four-fifths only posted a URL link to their brand's website. Another advertiser, Visa Gold, did include a Facebook and Twitter reference in their advertising, but these efforts read as an afterthought. The brand's last post had updated its cover photo to an Olympic-themed photo taken the day before the Opening Ceremony, but after this the company ignored its page, failing to post any relevant ads, not responding to any consumer posts and not sharing any fresh or timely material.

Twitter Upstages Advertising, Sends Correct Message
"This digital disconnect is all the more surprising in light of the extensive use of social media references by many of these same advertisers during previous sporting events, such as the Super Bowl," noted Christina Heggie, A.T. Kearney Senior Analyst and study leader. "And especially for an event as multi-layered and fast-paced as the Olympics, it's all in the timing. When President Obama sent a congratulatory tweet after Michael Phelps won his 19th gold medal, that sent a more relevant message, in this day and age, than a formal invitation to White House. And gold medalist Missy Franklin was almost as excited about Justin Bieber's tweet as about her victory. Clearly, advertisers need to start looking at communication channels differently," she said.

Earlier this year, A.T. Kearney conducted a Social Media study that tabulated thousands of online company-consumer interactions, comparing them against findings from the same study last year. The study showed a sharp acceleration in company-consumer interactions through social media, suggesting that social media marketing is not only here to stay, but is an initiative that needs to be followed by companies as quickly and creatively as possible. "Despite the messaging put forth by marketers, people don't think twice about how they communicate -- only what they are communicating, with whom they are communicating, and what response they expect," concluded Singer.

About A.T. Kearney
A.T. Kearney is a global team of forward-thinking, collaborative partners that delivers immediate, meaningful results and long-term transformative advantage to clients. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors on CEO-agenda issues to the world's leading organizations across all major industries and sectors. A.T. Kearney's offices are located in major business centers in 38 countries.

About the Olympic Advertisers Study
A.T. Kearney's Olympic Advertisers Study was undertaken immediately following the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, as a continuation of its ongoing study of the place of social media in advertising. The Olympics study followed a similar study after the 2012 Super Bowl, but came away with very different results. Through this type of study, A.T. Kearney seeks to globalize a way of understanding the growing place of social media in the communications and consumer relations of retail and consumer product companies. 

The study examined all ads that took place during the prime time viewing of the Opening Ceremonies in each of the study's focus countries. The level of social media integration in the ads was measured across three metrics: 1) The extent that digital media was integrated into the advertisement shown, 2) the integration of that ad in the referenced digital media, and 3) the level of viewer engagement the digital media sparked.

Contact Information

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