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Winter Olympics: Samsung takes home Gold in brand race

After the final finishing line was crossed last week, Winter Olympic sponsorship brands are counting the return on their US$100 million+ investments, with Samsung taking home Gold for digital engagement.

The Pyeongchang games’ flagship sponsor counted the most related digital content engagement in part thanks to a debate over whether North Korean and Iranian athletes would be able to keep the Galaxy Note 8 phones being handed out to Olympians.

Measured by Amobee’s brand intelligence index, the South Korean brand gained nearly 50 per cent more engagement than the second brand on the podium, Ralph Lauren, which kitted at the American athletes for the opening and closing ceremony.

In Bronze position was Intel, which  received 52 per cent as much Olympics related digital content engagement as Samsung. This was mostly due to its record-breaking  light display made of 1,200 drones at the opening ceremony. The brand also had a 300-drone live performance each night at the medal ceremony.

Intel set a world record for the ‘most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously’ at the Winter Olympics

Intel’s performance was followed by McDonald’s, which had 41 per cent as much coverage as Samsung, while Nike generated 39 per cent as much Olympics related digital content engagement as the mobile phone giant.

The full list of brands can be viewed here.

Amobee was unable to disclose the total volume of digital content generated for each brand during the two-week games.

However, it was not just the brands who paid the minimum fee of US$100 million four-year Olympic sponsorship deal who were winners on social media.

When Czech Olympian Ester Ledecká claimed an alpine skiing Gold, after allegedly using Atomic Skis belonging to American Mikaela Shiffrin, digital content engagement around Atomic Skis increased by 67 compared to the week before the drama. More than half of the social mentions were related to Ledecká’s win.

Meanwhile, another brand upset was caused by Red Stripe, a Jamaican brewed lager owned by Heineken, which announced on social media it would pay for a sled of the Jamaican women’s bobsleigh team.

The situation began earlier when the women’s bobsleigh coach Sandra Kiriasis quit the games and took the team’s sleigh with her.

Following this, the hashtags #RedstripeToTheRescue and #SleighAllDay started trending on social media and digital engagement for Red Stripe increased by 130 per cent from the previous week, according to Amobee.

Jonathan Cohen, principal brand analyst, at the Singtel-owned ad tech company, said: “The most memorable brand appearances around the Olympics are the most unexpected, for instance Ester Ledecká borrowing someone else’s Atomic Skis to come from nowhere and win the women’s Super-G or Red Stripe stepping up to pay for a Bobsled for the Jamaican team.

“In that context, it’s critical that brands have an agile strategy to identify opportunities, react, and shift resources around live events they’re involved in. When your company’s own Atomic Skis moment comes, amplification is necessary to optimise audience awareness.”

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