How Nike Stole Social Media Gold From Olympic Sponsor Adidas

Which brands were the real winners in 2012’s “Social Olympics”?  Were Olympic official sponsors – like Adidas – more successful on social media, or did brands like Nike – who sponsored hundreds of individual athletes – steal the show?

How Nike Stole Social Gold From Olympic Sponsor AdidasEach brand made its presence known through carefully planned branding.  As an official Olympic sponsor, Adidas’ black and white stripes were seen on all official Olympic signage.  But Nike – as the sponsor of Olympians and Olympic teams, including the U.S. swim and gymnastics teams – had products on constant display, as athletes wore Nike garb (from windbreakers to neon running shoes) whenever they were competing.  According to the L2 blog, “the consensus is that Nike’s approach delivered a significantly greater social impact than Adidas’.”

Here’s a breakdown of the results, based on analysis by Social Bakers and L2:

  • Over 16,020 tweets asssociated the word “Nike” with “Olympics” vs. just under 9,300 for Adidas
  • @Nike’s followers grew 11% from opening to closing ceremonies, adding more than 57,000 followers
  • @adidas originals grew only 4%, adding 12,000 followers over the same time period
  • Over the course of the 2012 Olympics, Nike added twice as many Facebook fans as Adidas

What were the keys to Nike’s success?  The brand used “highly original, heartstrings-pulling” television spots to promote their “Find Your Greatness” Olympic message, and then kept the conversation going with the #findgreatness hashtag on Twitter.  The hashtag was well-advertised on billboards and tube trains; over 30 days, #findgreatness earned over 7,000 more Tweets than Adidas’ #takethestage (L2).

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How Nike Stole Social Gold From Olympic Sponsor AdidasAdidas paid heavily for its signage in the games, with a multi-million pound sponsorship.  By sponsoring individual athletes and teams, Nike gained product placement every time athletes were on-screen; and drummed up social support with television ads that connected to a Twitter hashtag – and a message that strongly resonated with the Games.

What do you think – was Adidas’ sponsorship worth it?  Probably not, given Nike’s overwhelming success, especially on social media.  As Social Baker’s CEO Jan Rezab states, “There was a time when primetime slots around major sporting events were essential for maintaining position as a household name; but social media has levelled the playing field. Through its savvy social strategy, Nike demonstrated that you no longer need prime time to create brand buzz.”