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The best sponsorship activations at the Rio Olympics


By David Tokarczyk, Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada

“I decided to volunteer for the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) to learn more about Olympic sponsorship and meet the people working behind the scenes.”

Canada Olympic House

I was assigned to Canada Olympic House (COH), a venue set up to host the families and friends of Canadian Olympians. COC did a fantastic job of transforming a local sports club for the purpose, providing a perfect place for our national sponsors to activate. COH had several sponsors activating, but two in particular caught my attention.

The first was Canadian Tire, which offered a unique experience by allowing fans in Canada to interact with Olympians at COH through the “Canadian Tire Red Door.” Each day throughout the Olympics, COH visitors or Olympians would open the door and interact live with people at home via a giant screen. In Canada, the Red Door changed location every day, with our Olympians sometimes opening the door in Rio to find themselves facing family members at home cheering them on.

The second was Molson Canadian with its “Molson Red Beer Fridge.” Installed at COH, this fridge would only open when visitors said “I am Canadian” in six different languages. It was fascinating to see how people from different ethnic backgrounds would gather in groups to try to open the fridge and win prizes that included caps, flags, bottle openers and Molson Canadian beer cans.

Olympic Sponsors

International Olympic Committee global sponsors and Rio 2016 Organizing Committee sponsors activated in two main locations in Rio: the Olympic Park in Barra and Olympic Boulevard in Porto Maravilha. Locals and tourist who did not have an event ticket were able to enjoy various activities along Olympic Boulevard. Overall, Nissan, Skoll and Coca-Cola offered the best activations at both locations.

Sponsorship Bronze Medal Winner

Nissan (Official Sponsor of the Rio Olympic Games)

Nissan gave visitors a memorable experience on Olympic Boulevard by offering free bungee jumping and a chance to take a picture with the Olympic torch. The company’s activation in Olympic Park, called “Nissan Kicks House,” was even more elaborate. The house included several activities demonstrating the technology behind the cars and giving visitors the opportunity to test their archery skills and try their hand at a giant arcade claw machine. Visually, Nissan did a wonderful job and even held live dance shows that featured the lights of the cars on display as part of the performance.

Sponsorship Silver Medal Winner

SKOL (Official Supporter of Rio Olympic Games)

Skol, the most popular beer in Brazil, earned great brand exposure by having its logo on a scenic balloon on Olympic Boulevard. Visitors had the chance to enjoy a free ride on the hot air balloon by advance registering online. The company also built a lounge area where visitors could watch the various events on the boulevard. Skol’s activation in Olympic Park was different; the company had a live DJ and built a temporary dance floor with moving walls. Beer was sold in collectible cups inside the stadiums, with each cup illustrating a different sport in the Games. The cups were so popular that locals could later be seen trading or selling them on the streets.

Sponsorship Gold Medal Winner

Coca-Cola (TOP Worldwide Olympic Partner)

Coca-Cola activated in a large warehouse called the “Coca-Cola Station” on Olympic Boulevard. The station was huge but the brand was not visible from the outside. The waiting time was around two hours and visitors entered by groups of 20-30 people. Each guest received a limited edition Coca-Cola bottle and had the option to participate in a variety of activities. Most of the activations focused on creating a digital souvenir, a 360 degree photo with the Olympic torch or a photo with an Olympic medal, and a dance rhythm game. Comparatively, the Coca-Cola brand was more visible in Olympic Park. The activation was similar but with guests also having the chance to take a picture with the Coca-Cola truck used in the Olympic Torch relay.

Rio Olympics at a Glance

Safety was a key concern in my decision to visit Brazil given the constant media reports about the dangers of visiting the country. With the Zika virus spreading, the SC Johnson insect repellent brand Off! took the savvy step of becoming the official insect repellent supplier of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a move that reportedly had sales soaring over the same period last year. What is interesting is that SC Johnson is a competitor of Olympic Global Sponsor Procter & Gamble, but Procter & Gamble does not have insect repellent in its brands. The country has countless beautiful places to visit and I felt safe at all times. Overall, the Olympic sponsors got great visibility but their sponsorship activations were neither new nor revolutionary. With all the money spent, it is surprising that they wouldn’t have invested more in research to create new and innovative concepts.


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