The Olympic Marketing Campaigns that Won Gold

Last modified:
Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

The Tokyo Olympics may now be over, but there are certain moments – and marketing campaigns – that have stuck with us. So, who deserves a gold medal in Olympics marketing? Who’s seen enviable digital growth throughout the games? Here’s a rundown of our favourite campaigns, and what made them so successful.

Olympic Innerwear by Skims

When Kim Kardashian West announced her brand Skims would be making innerwear, sleepwear and loungewear for Team USA in Tokyo, people took notice. The announcement came on June 28th, in an emotional post from Kim K’s own Instagram. The caption shared memories of past games supporting Caitlyn Jenner – who is a retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete.

Why We Love the Skims Campaign

Not all brands could announce a campaign on Instagram and expect it to make waves, but Kim K’s 243 million followers were the perfect captive audience to give Skims the Olympic buzz it deserved. As we can see, just shy of 1.8 million people liked the post, which featured Team USA athletes.

It doesn’t stop there. Looking at the Skims site, we can see that referring domains have been steadily increasing over the past year, with a spike that corresponds with the June 28th announcement.

Another indication of the brand’s performance is that Skims’ domain authority has also increased, from 55 in August 2020 to 66 in August 2021.

Team GB x Ben Sherman Capsule Collection

Another brand to clothe Olympians at this year’s games is Ben Sherman. Hello! Magazine praised the “cool Ivy League-inspired 60s-style aesthetic” of their capsule collection. Launched ahead of the games, in May, the collection has an intentionally retro feel, as explained by Ben Sherman creative director Mark Williams:

“We sought style inspiration away from the starting blocks and winner’s podiums by looking at what athletes retrospectively wore during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics Games in and around the Olympic village.”

The Team GB clothing has been available to purchase throughout the Olympics.

Why We Love the Ben Sherman Campaign

Ben Sherman’s simple and effective photography compliments the clothing collection itself, which on the whole is fairly minimalist and timeless.

Though we can’t see any major changes to Ben Sherman’s brand visibility thanks to the campaign, we can see that it’s started ranking for ‘team GB Olympics’ and related keywords. Ben Sherman also gained some nice backlinks from the likes of The Sun, The Face, and Team GB themselves.

Nike: Best Day Ever

Nike’s big-budget ‘Best Day Ever’ campaign was voiced by none other than Lupita Nyong’o and featured athlete, Sha’Carri Richardson, who hit headlines after receiving a month’s suspension for testing positive for marijuana – to which she responded simply, “I am human”.

Released on July 11th, the campaign video is an uplifting message of hope – only marred by the many user comments questioning the production ethics of Nike’s clothing and footwear.

Why We Love Nike’s ‘Best Day Ever’ Campaign

Nike’s video has already racked up almost 57.5 million views on YouTube since its release this time last month – a hugely impressive figure. It’s the latest installment in Nike’s ‘Play New’ campaign, which “imagines an unlimited world of what sport can be”, according to the brand.

With an objective to inspire, we’d have to say the goal has been met.

Made With Love by Tom Daley

Tom Daley has won hearts in more ways than one during the Tokyo Olympics. As well as securing both a bronze and gold medal for his diving prowess, he’s also proven to be a talented knitter.

Daley launched his knitting-focused Instagram account back in September, and could be seen visibly knitting on the sidelines throughout much of the Olympics action. Alongside Harry Styles he’s been dubbed by Tatler as one of the “glamorous poster boys for knitting and knitwear”, while NBC News proclaimed “his knitting won the internet”. Daley is ultimately using his knitting skills to to raise money and awareness for the Brain Tumour Charity, in memory of his father Robert, who died of brain cancer in 2011.

Why We Love ‘Made With Love by Tom Daley’

In short, it would be impossible not to. Daley’s supporting a valuable cause here, and he’s creating quite a buzz in the process.

His knitting Instagram account, only founded in September, has already climbed to 1.3 million followers – 300,000 of which are from the last week alone.

Vans and Skateistan: Where It Starts

Skateboarding made its Olympic debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and Vans pre-empted the event with a charitable campaign. Partnering with international nonprofit Skateistan, it vowed to donate $10 from every pair of Vans Skate Classic custom sneakers sold (up to $200,000) to help bring resources to skateboarding communities across the world.

Why We Love the ‘Where It Starts’ Campaign

For Vans, the campaign feels like a return to the brand’s original ethos and values, and the message is one that resonates beyond the sport itself:

“No Matter How Big Skateboarding Gets, Never Forget Where it Starts.”

The campaign features skateboarding legends Tony Hawk, Lizzie Armanto, Pedro Barros and Yann Horowitz, and so far has 357,533 views on YouTube.

“Our goal is to raise awareness on the benefits that skateboarding brings to youth culture: from enabling creativity, supporting physical and mental well-being, driving inclusivity and most importantly building community, where skateboarding literally starts,” said Bobby Gascon, Vans global director of action sports.

Key Takeaways From Our Olympic Winners

We hope you enjoyed this whistlestop tour of the most impactful Olympics marketing campaigns.

So, what can we learn from all this? Firstly, it’s that the recipe for success differs between brands. For Tom Daley, the worthiness of his cause – and the sheer surprise of seeing a top athlete knitting by the side of a pool – are likely the two main factors. Meanwhile, for Nike, it’s the high-profile faces and messaging that captured our attention.

What all these campaigns share are a timeliness and celebration of the subject that unites them. Which do you rank gold, silver and bronze? Tell us over on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Want a helping hand with your content campaigns, to ensure they hit the mark? Trust our team of experts. Contact us today to find out more about the services we offer.

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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