adidas milks Official Sponsor Status as Nike’s Olympics Ambush Fails to Engage

In recent weeks, I’ve been asked by a number of mainstream media reporters whether an Olympics ambush marketing strategy can pay off and allow a non-sponsor to outperform a sponsor, especially in social media? The obvious answer is, in principle, yes – despite ever-tighter IOC and LOCOG rules.

But it’s all in the execution – as a recent comparison between adidas and Nike shows.

Sportswear firm and major Olympics sponsor adidas has already consolidated its position in the top three on our London 2012 Social Scoreboard, a website devoted to ranking the social media performance of 25 Olympic sponsors. Powered by our PRINT™ measurement methodology, the site shows how well each sponsor is performing against the others.

adidas is one of the clear leaders among the sponsors, driven primarily by its Take The Stage campaign – but it also seems to be outperforming its key global rival, Nike – at least on the engagement front. Although Nike is not an official sponsor, it launched an aggressive new London ambush marketing campaign this week.

The head to head comparison below shows that adidas scores relatively better overall on those PRINT™ attributes that contribute towards strong levels of engagement, namely Receptiveness (Rec) and Interaction (Int). The only attribute where Nike scores higher is Network Reach (Net), which perhaps reflects the aggressiveness of its strategy, attempting – and it appears succeeding – to simply reach as many consumers as possible.

If nothing else, this quick comparison shows that – if social media is to be effective in any aspect of brand marketing, including sponsorship activation – engagement is just as important as raw publicity for success, whatever the campaign and whatever the social network.