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Ambush Marketing (and Marketing) Awards for the Sochi Winter Games Announced

Olympic Wrap-up, March 2014 Austin, Texas — The Global Language Monitor announced that Red Bull has taken the Gold for the Top Ambush Marketing Campaign, while Proctor & Gamble out-dueled a resurgent Samsung to take the Gold for the Top Marketing Campaign by an Official Sponsor for the recently concluded XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

For the Ambushers, Red Bull led comfortably over Subway, which took the Silver, and Rolex, a surprise winner of the Bronze;  Rolex was in a very tight race with both Unilever and Siemens. Following P&G for the Official Sponsors were Samsung taking the Silver, and Coca-Cola hauling in the Bronze.   P&G, Samsung and Coca-Cola all had critically acclaimed marketing campaigns that were well-received by global audiences.

The awards are determined by Global Language Monitor’s (GLM) Brand Affiliation Index (BAI),  a proprietary, longitudinal study that analyzes the global association between (and among) individual brands and their competitors or, in this case, the Sochi Winter Games.  In the study, The Global Language Monitor measured several dozen factors, closely examining all marketing movement extending from London 2012 to projections for the Rio 2016.  GLM has been tracking the Olympics in this manner  since the Beijing Summer Games.


The Terra Cotta medal, the new award for least successful marketing campaign by an official partner, was contested by Visa Card, Omega, and Atos. Visa Card had the visibility without the impact of the P&G, Coke, and Samsung efforts.  Omega’s rank is a conundrum:  It appeared on the screen during every timed event, yet it, apparently, did not register in the minds of the global audience.  (This needs to be rectified.)  And Atos apparently doesn’t mind ‘winning’ the first Terra Cotta medal, since it has been dubbed the ‘Unsung Hero’ of the Games for creating Sochi’s vast (and effective) IT infrastructure.

"The value of Olympic sponsorship continues to rise as evidenced by the bold attempts by the Ambush Marketers to associate their brands with the Sochi Winter Games." said Paul JJ Payack, president and Chief Word Analyst, the Global Language Monitor.   "The more stringent the legislation to outlaw any effort to 'ambush' the Games, the more marketers seem intent on circumventing the rules.  And the more news related to 'ambushing' is highlighted by the media.  An example is a Sochi official taping over Apple's logo in plain site of the global media (#EpicFailure)".

GLM uses its proprietary algorithmic services to perform brand audits, enabling organizations to judge their brand performance between and among their competitors and their peers.  The higher the BAI (Brand Affiliation Index) the closer the brand affiliation with the primary brand, in this case the Sochi Winter Olympics. Of course, not all Ambush Marketers plan to steal the Olympic glow from their competitors, a cost estimated to be up to $1 billion, fully loaded, over a four-year Olympiad. Therefore, GLM uses the term Non-affiliated Marketers (NAM) for those, like Starbucks, who seem to engender a false impression of Olympic sponsorship, our research shows, because of their immense size, health-oriented menu, and image of busy, successful people dashing in and out. Nike, for example, is proud of its Ambush Marketing ‘stunts’ such as the ‘Yellow-Green Neon Shoe’ escapade in London 2012 — and the record backs them up.

The Sochi All Marketers Final Ranking by BAI  is shown below.

Sochi All Marketers BAI Final

Of particular note are the following. 0  Red Bull’s connection with extreme and ‘uber-extreme’ sports has paid off, once again.  Red Bull topped all marketers (official and otherwise), out-distancing the Gold-winning P&G, the top official sponsor, by some nine percent. o  The Nike Stunt that Never Was — Though long anticipated, and expected, never materialized.  

At the end of the London Summer Games, Nike’s BAI reached 223.98, compared with its final Sochi BAI of 30.25, a net difference of nearly 200 points. Nevertheless, the fact that some twenty months after London,  Nike is still ahead of three official Sponsors is testament to the lasting power of the London Stunt. o  P&G’s “Thank you, Mom” campaign had viewers anticipating and actually recording the commercials for later viewing.  The 316% increase from already-solid final London numbers is well deserved. o  Subway, the Ambush Silver medalist’s year-round promotions with current and former Olympic icons worked once again.  Subway’s 176.31 BAI topped that of eight of the 10 official sponsors. 0  In the battle between Coca-Cola, the Bronze medalist, and McDonald’s, long-time Olympic sponsors (and rivals), Coke more than doubled McDonald’s BAI (171.59 to 85.22).   The back story here:  Coca-Cola rose 48% from it London final, while McDonald’s was down about 8%. o  Unilever (109.73), the P&G rival finished as the No. 4 NAM and No.8 marketer overall.  Unilever rose some 800% over its London final (11.93). o  GE had a noteworthy Olympics rising some 60% over a very respectable London performance (91.22 vs 55.97).  GE’s commercials deftly detailed its incredibly broad range of products and services in a very entertaining manner.  Rival Siemens also scored well, in fact, actually besting GE by about nine percent. o  Apple Computer and Burton Snowboards both made an impression with the worldwide audience:  the former with the ‘tape incident’ where an Apple logo was taped over by a Sochi official (Mistake:  taping in full view  of the media) during a skating competition, and Burton, for its brazen attempt to place its over-sized logo on the very visible  underside of the boards of prominent snowboarders.

London to end of Sochi
Change Over Course of Sochi

In the study, GLM measured several dozen factors, including the change in BAI from the end of the London Summer Games in 2012 to the end of the Sochi Winter Games for both Top Partners and Non-Affiliated Marketers. In percentage gains, the Top Partners almost doubled, rising over 95%.  The biggest movers were Samsung, P&G, and Dow — all scoring triple-digit gains by percentage. However, the Non-Affiliated Marketers on the average almost quadrupled, up over 358%. .The largest gainers were Rolex (with a 1500% gain), Red Bull,Unilever, DuPont, and Siemens (all with triple-digit gains), and Subway. Measuring brands movements during the Sochi Games,themselves,  six of the Top Ten gainers were Ambushers, as shown below.

Sochi Change During Games

Red Bull made the largest move during the Sochi Games, followed by Top Partners GE and DOW.   Coca-Cola and McDonald’s (at No. 7 and 8) were the other Top Partners in the top ten.  Non-Affiliated Marketers Unilever, DuPont, IBM Global Services, Nike, and Starbucks all made strong moves during the Games. The “Sochi Games Brand Marketing Report:  Post-Games Analysis”  is now available; order here. Over the last four Olympics, the Global Language Monitor has been using its Brand Affiliation Index and NarrativeTracker technology to measure the relationship of the official Sponsors and their competitors to the various Olympics brands. This is a longitudinal study that reaches back to the Beijing Summer Games in 2008. The names of the sponsors change rarely, but the non-affiliated competitors remain a core group with others that come on to the Olympic platform for but a cycle or two. GLM has found that there are many misconceptions continue to persist despite the evidence.

If you are looking for these or similar analyses for your event, company, organization, university, or brands, call 1.512.815.8836, or email info@LanguageMonitor.com.

About the Global Language Monitor
Austin-Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English. This exclusive ranking is based upon GLM’s Narrative Tracking technology.  NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 250,000 print and electronic news media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter) as they emerge.  The words, phrases and concepts are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.
 In 2003, The Global Language Monitor (GLM) was founded in Silicon Valley by Paul J.J. Payack on the understanding that new technologies and techniques were necessary for truly understanding the world of Big Data, as it is now known.  GLM provides a number of innovative products and services that utilize its ‘algorithmic services’ to help worldwide customers protect, defend and nurture their branded products and entities.  Products include ‘brand audits’ to assess the current status, establish baselines, and competitive benchmarks for current intellectual assets and brands.
These services are currently provided to the Fortune 500, the Higher Education market, high technology firms, the worldwide print and electronic media, and the global fashion industry, among others.
For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.





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