Do you ever wonder about the value of advertising at the Olympic Games, when millions of households fixate on sporting spectacle for two weeks in the hopes of witnessing their favourite athletes go for gold? $100 million. That is the price many large corporations such as Visa and Coca-Cola pay to be “official” Olympic sponsors, and reap the benefits of seemingly never-ending airtime and exposure to consumers of all demographics.

Staff Writer: Coleman Pete

The Rio Summer Olympics was a media frenzy, where the stories of athletes were told in real time through the lens of savvy corporate sponsorship. Here were some of the biggest trends in advertising for the 2016 Games.

Rule 40

2016 is a landmark year for Olympic advertising thanks to the lessening of restrictions for who athletes are allowed to endorse. Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter prevents the “over-commercialization” of the Olympic Games by restricting advertising rights to a few large corporations. However, recent amendments now allow athletes to be endorsed by other sponsors, but with a catch. All campaigns must have ended by March 27th, and must not include any Olympic-specific terms, such as “Rio”, “2016” or “Gold.” Although this allows athletes more opportunities with sponsors, it still restricts exposure to only a few major campaigns.

Optimism Despite Controversy

Even with preparations for Rio being behind schedule, the outlook for advertising sales is still outpacing expectations. NBC, the primary broadcaster for the Games in the United States, is expecting ad sales in the neighbourhood of $1 Billion, an amount exceeding that achieved at the London Summer Games in 2012. Even with athletes dropping out in droves over Zika virus concerns, and Brazil in the midst of its worst recession since the 1930’s, the attention surrounding the competition has failed to falter.

Going Mobile

Rio 2016 has already been dubbed “The Smartphone Olympics” for predictions that companies will leverage mobile platforms heavily to appeal to an audience that is increasingly viewing digitally. In addition, 8 out of 10 millennials will have a “second screen” open to view related content while viewing the Games. Facebook and Snapchat are both expected to see massive increases in ad revenues during competition, and apps like Periscope will offer new ways to take in the events. Even as billions are spent on television rights and sponsorship for the Games, mobile access is allowing for even more ways to keep viewers engaged.