Marketing by association: Olympic style

Every year the American people witness larger than life advertisements during our nations biggest event; the Super Bowl. Companies like Budweiser and Pepsi pay millions of dollars to get their highly budgeted ad viewed by the American population. Is this really the biggest event out there? Can you think of maybe one more that gets more viewers than the Super bowl? You got it! It’s the ever so cherished Olympic games. Once every four years, the summer games get a viewership north of 3 billion people every time they take place. With these kind of numbers, these ad spots are the most expensive form of advertising in the world, But are they the most effective?

The difference between the Super Bowl and the summer Olympiad is that marketers who advertise during the Olympics are trying to associate their brand with high moral standards, excellence, dedication and gold medals while the Super Bowl has become an advertising event in its own right. Is brand association as effective as the leaders of these companies are led to believe? All signs point to no.

The truth is that branding is mostly comprised of reputation. Consumers are not the moldable putty that some advertisers believe that they are. In reality, if Mcdonald’s burns their hamburgers or Visa provides low quality customer service, these extremely expensive association tactics are essentially useless. Now if for example, Wendy’s is the new favorite hamburger of consumers and they advertise on a different, less expensive channel, they will have a higher return on dollars spent on advertising because reputation is king. If I know the sandwich being shown on T.V. is delicious, the ad might inspire me to drive over to buy one. If I know that is doesn’t taste good, no form of association can get me to spend my hard earned dollars on it. For this reason, the association tactic of branding is not worth its weight in gold medals.

Some good advice to follow would be to take all of the money your company would spend on the XXX Olympiad and invest it in product performance and customer service. That is how your company will take the gold.

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