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The 2020 Summer Olympic Games proceeded amidst conflicting opinions regarding the wisdom and motivations behind the decision. Surprisingly, the games were a huge success, thanks to some savvy marketing and an enhanced focus on safety in a period marked by increases in the different variants of the novel coronavirus pandemic in many countries. Indeed, there are many lessons businesses can learn from the experience of the Tokyo Olympics, especially with regard to marketing, organizing, and sustaining the buzz in a highly challenging period.

In a time of mass isolation, building and sustaining the buzz around the Olympic Games must have been a highly challenging endeavor. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) opted to continue depicting the games as the Tokyo 2020. This was important in some key ways. It maintained the four-year tradition, retaining and extending the brand buzz to the summer of 2021. This was the foundation for the digital engagement campaigns, which majorly focused on empowering people to invest in the event in the long wait before the summer of 2021. the organizers created initiatives like #StrongerTogether to create and sustain a sense of solidarity and the power of sports to create unity, strong pillars of the Olympic Games.

The digital campaigns implemented by event organizers had a profound effect. For instance, they extraordinarily fulfilled the goal of connecting the audience using localization and personalization. In fact, so effective was this strategy that the digital marketing department of the IOC opted to sustain its use even during the Games. There is a massive likelihood that it will continue to be used at the Paralympics and in the coming variants of the Olympic Games. The strategy was effective for several reasons. But, the most notable one is that it had a direct-to-people orientation that had athletes as the focal point of the digital-oriented content and engagement approach.

The new strategy was a breath of fresh air, a shift from the old approaches that emphasized using third parties to interact with audiences. In this new approach, the emphasis was placed on interacting directly with customers using personalized content. The primary aim was to establish and maintain relationships with customers. The strategy has an element of complexity in the sense that it does not isolate third parties. At least not in the strictest sense. The interactions also involved renowned longstanding partners such as Nike. However, they had a new role, one involving partnering with star athletes to tell personal stories that resonated with the fans. You probably already know what to borrow from this narrative, but I will go ahead and write it, just in case.

The key to the agility and flexibility that allows successful event marketing is getting back to the basics. In a period where isolation is the norm, personalized connections are a powerful tool for reconnecting with clients. However, executing and maintaining these connections is highly dependent on formulating a firm understanding of your customers. If there is one marketing lesson we can all draw from the Tokyo Olympics, it is that a consumer-centered digital-oriented content approach is crucial to generating the buzz and keeping your customer engaged. In a crisis that affects everyone, I think the connections enabled by such an approach are crucial for sustaining business.


  • 16 Aug 2021
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