Your Brand Worked Hard Over The Past Four Years. We Salute You.
It’s almost here. The Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea. It’s a period where Canadians are glued to their televisions, social channels or preferred media outlet to follow their favourite athletes or sport: all in the name of the great Maple Leaf about which we are so proud. The smiling faces during the Opening Ceremonies will all turn to serious, tense and competitive grimaces as athletes will be deemed victorious by a fraction of a second or decimal point. Every movement counts and can represent the difference from a podium finish to an also ran. It’s a seriously monumental task to peak and perform your best while every competitor is making every attempt to do the same. Herein lies the deeper story.
I just got back from the FIS World Cup Moguls Competition presented by Toyota at Mont Tremblant. Now, we all know that Quebec is a different market. In fact, 71% of Canadians are basically the same, but Quebecers do 29% differently than the rest of the great white north*. One of those things is that they LOVE Moguls Skiing. This was the first year for this particular World Cup at Mont Tremblant. There was a buzz in the air to say the least. Quebec’s Mikaël Kingsbury was going for his 14th consecutive World Cup Gold and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters were vying for a spot on the Olympic squad. It all started around 11:00 AM (Finals didn’t start until 1:00 PM!) when the mass exodus from the village began: a pilgrimage of moguls followers seeking the nectar of the gods as Quebecers made their way, 500 metres up the steep side of the mountain to the altar of the competition. By the time I arrived, the bottom of the finish corral was 20 deep with the walls of the course lined almost to the Start. Infectious passion was in the air and the Canadians did not disappoint: Podium finishes in both the men’s and the women’s fields.
So, that was the sport side of things. Super entertaining and super fun. On the corporate side of things was a group of 70 or so from Mackenzie Investments who had been hosting highly valued customers all the while receiving branding along the course and amplified by the CBC broadcast not to mention attracting a crowd at their activation on hill with a warming tent and a VR demo. Toyota was also at the base of the mountain greeting potential customers with an activation that was both welcoming and friendly while executives, dealers and clients enjoyed some first class hospitality and skiing. Toyo Tires was present on-hill reaffirming customers that when they drive to Mont Tremblant that Toyo brand tires will get them there safely. Columbia was proudly adorning the athletes, staff and volunteers with their first rate product demonstrating that their line of outerwear can keep fans warm and fashionable in the worst of Quebec winters. All of these brands and more, were there to capture the passion of Freestyle Skiing in places where people play (not sit and watch) fitting directly into their winter weekend lifestyle. It’s subtle but it’s smart.
Across the country, Mazda teams were along-side with Canada Snowboard as they launched their grassroots skills development program entitled the Mazda Super Grom Series. Now, only if you had kids that surfed, skateboarded or were snowboarders you might know the name grom. It’s an endearing term for a young action sports participant. That said, there are about 50 of these grassroots programs that are produced across Canada at resorts over the course of the winter months. That means the Mazda brand is up and present in front of kids, moms and dads and everyone else at those resorts for an extended period of time. It’s where their kids are learning to have fun on snow, learning to snowboard better and improving their game. All this was going on while Mazda’s The Drive video series with King Snow magazine and Canada Snowboard was racking up thousands of views.
So what’s the point? The point is that we should all be super proud of all the Olympic sponsors. They are making the experience for the athletes so much better than it has ever been. But, dig a little deeper and there are a number of other sponsors that are telling their brand story every day, on the hills, where people are playing and having fun. If a part of evaluating a partnership is about reach and frequency then these sport organizations (Canada Snowboard and Freestyle Canada) are delivering in spades. This is not just a logo on TV while you sit in your living room. No, this is a seamless injection of product placement that makes sense for both the brand and the property. This is pure, in the moment lifestyle marketing that makes so much sense. There is also much less clutter and the rights fees are more reasonable: leaving precious brand dollars in the hands of brand managers and smart experiential agencies.
So KUDOS to all the sponsors of all the national sports organizations that have supported our Canadian teams and athletes over the past four years. Your dedication to the grass roots programs, Next Gen programs, National Team Programs, Development Series, National Championships and World Cup events will surely make a difference over the next two weeks and for that, we salute you!