Can Digital Save the Tokyo Olympics in 2021?

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Event planners, sponsors & advertisers rally to deliver a memorable experience for close to 20 million viewers around the world.

The Olympic Games have finally arrived, but they certainly have a different look and feel than years past. For one, all the logos out there bear last year’s date – an eerie reminder of just how much time was lost over this past year as the world struggled with a seemingly never-ending crisis. And even after it was announced that the Tokyo Olympics would move forward in 2021, the announcement that international visitors were restricted from attending in-person forced event planners, sponsors and advertisers to turn to digital channels and marketing tactics once again to keep the machine moving forward.

The good news? Nothing inspires new thinking and innovation quite like a crisis (especially one felt all around the world). In the months that led into this year’s games, we saw some of the best marketing executions we’ve seen in a while. And when it became clear that the 2021 Olympics would be primarily a broadcast event, brands appeared ready to pivot quickly, embracing virtual executions, story-rich content marketing & social media to engage audiences in new ways.

Last week, we polled our teams and global thought leaders around the world to find out how they were following this year’s games. Here’s a roundup of what they shared.

Facebook creates an Olympic Hub
Facebook has created a dedicated content hub for all things Tokyo 2020. The hub features highlights from daily events as well pieces on teams and their athletes. Users can browse events that are new to the Games in a section called “New Olympic Sports” and learn all the ins and outs of the new events.

The social media giant has also made it easy stay up to date with current Olympic chatter, by aggregating user-generated content all in one spot.

To access the Facebook Olympics hub, type Olympics in the “search” function of the app.

Some Facebook hashtags that we’ve been tracking: #Tokyo2020 #Olympics2021 #TokyoOlympics #Tokyo

fbolympicshub
Source: Facebook

TikTok goes Behind the Scenes with Olympic Athletes
Some athletes are using TikTok as their go-to app for off-the-cuff videos taken while on-site at the Games. The first Olympic story to go viral in Tokyo featured athletes jumping on beds in the Olympic Village after rumours swirled that the bedframes were intentionally made of cardboard to discourage “extra-curricular activities” among athletes within the Village.

Olympian TikTok videos give us the opportunity to catch a glimpse into what life is really like inside Olympic Village during an unprecedented Games. Some athlete TikToker’s have even given exclusive access to their training regimen and what it’s like back stage at their events.

Want in on the fun? We love following these athletes: @TylerDowns and @ReganSmith40

Instagram embraces Olympic-Themed Augmented Reality
Instagram has integrated new Olympic-themed Augmented Reality (AR) onto its platform. One effect lets fans imitate the movements of Miraitowa (the official Olympics mascot). Based on how they perform, users can earn AR medals through this filter.

The official Tokyo Olympics Instagram account also showcases behind the scenes content with eleven Olympians from around the world within their Reels section.

Some of our favourite Instagram accounts for all things #Tokyo2020: @Tokyo2020 @usa_diving @perditafelicien @teamgb

WhatsApp launches an Olympic Chatbot Expert
WhatsApp has a dedicated Olympics chatbot that users can connect with to get the latest news on the Olympic Games. You can ask the chatbot for information like scheduling, medal standings and highlights.

The WhatsApp Olympics chatbot also has collectable stickers that can be earned by participating in quizzes via the chatbot.

whatsappolympics
Source: WhatsApp

Google Street View invites us to Explore Japan
Even though international spectators aren’t permitted at this year’s Games, users can take a virtual tour of the country with Google’s Street View.

To access Street View open Google Maps, tap on a place marker and then tap the place name. Scroll and select the “Street View” label.

Our personal favourites include: Ueno Park, The Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo Skytree and Sensō-ji

SnapChat debuts Daily Olympic Episodes
Snapchat launched original content featuring five Olympic-themed shows that will be airing daily includes “Olympics Highlights” and “Best of Olympics” which covers the top athletes and stories of the past editions of the Olympics. To find the episodes, users can search in the Discover section of the Snapchat app.

Snapchat also launched a fun ‘Train like an Olympian’ Augmented Reality (AR) lens which features exercises that users have to complete before time runs out.

We recommend following: #Olympics #OlympicSpirit #Olympics2020

Twitter launches the #ExpertEngine Experience
Twitter has a daily, original studio show live from Tokyo and a new Olympics-focused Explore tab, as well as new Olympic topics to follow to stay up to date. They’re also running custom games Event Pages, which will feature top Tweets from trusted accounts.

And new this year, Twitter launched its #ExpertEngine Experience, which will provide a way for users to learn more about Olympic events. Olympic enthusiasts can send a tweet using the hashtag #ExpertEngine @Olympics and any sporting event hashtag, such as #basketball or #swimming, and they will automatically receive a video reply teaching them all about that sport.

Twitter accounts that keep us up-to-date: @NBCOlympics @AFP @TwitterMoments @CBCOlympics

Google Search remains the top tool to follow Olympic News
Looking for quick Olympic-related information? Just search “Olympics” within the Google Search Engine and you’ll find all the latest Olympic information including medal standings, news stories and event schedules.

googleolympics
Source: Google

YouTube hosts Live Events and Original Content
Don’t have cable? No problem. YouTube has you covered with their highlights from all of the official Olympic broadcasters. And for those in the United States, they’ve also got lots of content on the platform’s official Olympics channel including original programming: “Strive”, “How-To Olympics,” “Break the Record” and a feature-length documentary “World Debut”.

Google Assistant offers up Real-Time Olympic Updates
If you don’t have time to pick-up your phone, just ask Google who won the men’s basketball in the Olympics or who’s leading the medal count that day.

You can even say, “Hey Google, tell me a fun fact about the games in Tokyo.” Whether you’re using your phone, speaker, TV or other enabled device, Google Assistant can provide you with all of the key details instantly.

Twitch produces a Virtual Torch Relay
Twitch is producing live content throughout the event, including highlight studio shows, game-ified pre-Olympic activations, Olympic athlete interviews and Olympic-themed gaming competitions.

The NBC Olympics channel on Twitch is even hosting several content series throughout the Games including a highlights show, streamer competitions, and live question and answer sessions with Olympic athletes.

Interested in doing some brainstorming to get your brand or business noticed on digital channels? We’re happy to get you started. (No Olympic Sponsor budget required.)

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