Given the outstanding athletic performances on the field of play at Rio 2016, the media coverage of Team Canada was positive during and post Games. Rio 2016 became the most-watched summer Olympic Games in Canadian history and the prowess of our nation’s female athletes as well as the success of Canada Olympic House attracted international media attention.
Tools for media were further developed as the mobile media guide app, @TeamCanada PR Twitter account and press.olympic.ca helped us advance our conversation with media by sharing timely athlete and sport information in an accessible way.
With full translation and linguistic services, the team met and exceeded coverage goals for more than 15 team announcements, including a hugely successful flag bearer revealing with the Prime Minister on Parliament Hill and the Rio 2016 Team Canada Send Off Beach Party. Corporate events saw positive national coverage on a number of COC programs, all while ensuring our partners’ stories and narratives were successfully told. In 2016, media were invited to 30 events organized by the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The communications team was also actively involved in developing important messaging on the COC organizational and policy changes for all audiences including staff, the sport community, partners and the public, while reinforcing the values of integrity and respect.
The evolution of the Canadian Olympic Team brand took further strides in 2016 with integration as a main strategy. This was accomplished primarily by delivering an iconic Games-time campaign that broke through the clutter and acted as a rallying cry for athletes, coaches and Canadians. Engagement reached a new level through Rio 2016 and all key brand metrics remain extremely strong with awareness (94%) and interest (32% very interested) scoring above our post-Sochi 2014 benchmarks. The campaign delivered against all key objectives and multiple key performance indicators surpassed previous campaigns.
“Historically, our nation is a winter sport powerhouse. But now it’s time for summer athletes to show the world that we are capable of being a strong summer sport nation.”
— Rio 2016 Olympian, beach volleyball
The campaign featured 12 athletes and nine sports/disciplines were represented with many creative assets showcasing NSF branding integration. Assets produced included multiple 10-second short videos for social media use, and 30- and 60-second video spots for TV and digital channels. Print assets came to life with a national out-of-home and print media presence. Numerous behind-the-scenes video assets were created by the COC digital team and aided in building momentum for the campaign.
Featured in the COC’s Ice In Our Veins brand campaign were: Jennifer Abel (diving), Catharine Pendrel (mountain bike), Katerine Savard (swimming), Ryan Cochrane (swimming), Aaron Brown (athletics), Mandy Bujold (boxing), Mark de Jonge (canoe/kayak sprint), Heather Bansley & Sarah Pavan (beach volleyball), Liz Gleadle (athletics), as well as Justyn Warner (athletics) and Milos Raonic (tennis).
It was a busy year for the events team, which collaborated fully with the organization to deliver against its objectives for a variety of corporate, sport and marketing events. The cornerstone project was Canada Olympic House at Rio 2016, the biggest and most impactful iteration of the project to date.
For the first time COH was designed by a Canadian firm. The Toronto-based design firm Yabu Pushelberg created a space that left a lasting impact on all who walked through the House, including corporate partners and their clients. More importantly, COH was a ‘home away from home’ for athletes, coaches, family and friends.
The Canadian Olympic Committee’s marketing partners proved they believe in the Team Canada brand wholeheartedly during what was a sometimes challenging 2016. They have signed on for bigger investments than ever before and are committing for extended periods because they’ve seen the tangible value. Generous support of Canadian institutions like Bell, RBC, Canadian Tire, HBC, Air Canada, and Deloitte is unparalleled in our 112-year history.
Canada Olympic House during Rio 2016 was a marquee touchpoint for our partners who made incremental investments from 17 marketing and strategic partners toward the success of the house. Included in 16 partner activations at COH were the iconic Molson Canadian Global Language fridge, the Red Door from Rio by Canadian Tire, and a bobsleigh simulator from the Richmond Olympic Experience. The COC hosted 11 partner events, including privately-hosted dinners, Bell and Petro-Canada’s partnership renewal announcements, RBC Training Ground events, and a concert presented by Deloitte.
We are pleased to report the successful launch of RBC’s Training Ground designed to help find undiscovered athletes with podium potential and provide them with funding to fuel their Olympic dreams. A new eight-year strategic partnership with Smith School of Business at Queen’s University was also announced, which will provide scholarships for COC athletes, shared coaching synergies, and customized leadership training for COC staff and stakeholders.
Inter-departmental collaboration was key in the marketing partnerships successes this past year, working with the digital team to launch the much-anticipated Hudson’s Bay uniform kit via a Facebook Live broadcast for the first time. Our brand team also worked closely to help deliver a first-of-its-kind program with Coca Cola, P&G, Mondelez, and General Mills to feature our Ice in Our Veins campaign in thousands of retail stores across Canada during Games-time.
Also for the first time, the COC implemented a formal Rule 40 application process whereby non-Olympic sponsors could submit campaigns featuring athletes for approval and receipt of Rule 40 waivers, enabling those campaigns to remain in market during the Rio 2016 Games period. We also extended select licensing rights to five summer NSFs as part of a trial licensing program for Rio 2016, allowing for the sale of replica competition uniforms featuring the Canadian Olympic Team mark.
The overarching marketing objective of the COC’s digital team is to strengthen brand equity via earned media. By continuing to tell athlete and sport stories in a way that garners huge results, Team Canada not only achieved this objective, but further cemented its place as a well-loved brand during 2016. After a competitive analysis, the COC determined that on a per capita basis we have the largest channel size and are the second-most engaged National Olympic Committee in the world (behind only Team GB which had its best-ever summer Olympic results at Rio 2016). During Rio 2016, we had more than 7.7 billion earned media impressions via our social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat), far exceeding our objectives.
The metrics speak for themselves:
Digital integration with all marketing initiatives was a key contributor to a successful year for the COC and partners alike. This was highlighted by three main projects:
• The Hudson’s Bay Rio 2016 uniform kit was launched in April via Facebook Live on which we partnered with the Facebook organization who promoted the reach of the video on its platform. This gave us data and marquee insights to truly support our longtime corporate partner Hudson’s Bay. Team Canada and Hudson’s Bay digital and social content generated more than 68 million earned media impressions and more than 28,000 engagements.
• Ice In Our Veins: The campaign was supported across all of Team Canada’s social channels. In addition to the TV spots by creative agency Cossette, behind-the-scenes videos were cut in-house to profile all the athletes involved in the campaign.
• In the lead up to Rio 2016, the digital team produced live content at 15 team announcements across Canada, including the Opening Ceremony Flag Bearer announcement on Parliament Hill. In addition, a team qualification tracker and team nomination tracker were maintained on Olympic.ca to give fans an idea of how many quota spots had been earned and which athletes were nominated to fill those spots.