Like Ratings, Olympic Brands See Golden Numbers With Viewers, Consumers

February 23, 2010: Not only are people watching the Winter Olympics on NBC and its affiliate networks, they also are talking about the brands they are seeing on TV via commercials, signage and athlete sponsorship deals. And even better for brands, two-thirds of consumers are talking about brands in a positive way.

After the first five days of the Games in Vancouver, an average of 3 million more people are talking about each advertiser, compared to a benchmark set during the six weeks prior to the start of the Olympics on Feb. 12. The numbers come from a study conducted by Keller Fay Group for NBC Universal, based on 4,211 online interviews with consumers 18-54 years of age. Keller Fay said that included a wave of 1,277 interviews conducted between the Opening Ceremonies on Feb. 12 and midnight on Feb. 17.

Worldwide partners of the International Olympic Committee are ACER, Atos Origin, Coca-Cola, General Electric, McDonald's, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung and Visa. Other marketers with a strong presence in Vancouver via their alliance with the U.S. Olympic Committee include Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Bank of America, John Hancock, Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, 24 Hour Fitness, Allstate, The Hilton Family, Kellogg's, Nike and United Airlines. In addition, companies such as General Motors and Air Canada are getting significant air time due to their official alliance with the Vancouver Games.

According to NBC Universal, 26 million average viewers for the first 10 nights of the Vancouver Games is the most for a non-U.S. Winter Olympics since the Lillehammer Games (39.4 million) in 1994. The 26 million is also almost six million more and 27% higher than the average viewership of the first 10 nights from Torino in 2006 (20.4 million).

NBCU’s Sunday Olympic broadcasts were seen by 87 million total viewers, the most viewers for any day so far for the Vancouver Games, 16 million more and 22% higher than the comparable Sunday from the 2006 Games (72 million). An average audience of 8.22 million watched the USA hockey team defeat Canada, 5-3, nearly matching the best average viewership for a program on MSNBC. (Election Night Coverage, 8.23 million on Nov. 4, 2008).

The Keller Fay Group study also found that 65% of conversations about advertiser brands were positive compared to only 6% negative, a ratio of 11-1 positive to negative, which compares favorably to the norm of 7-1 in other studies by Keller Fay. Compared to the pre-Olympics benchmark, advertiser WOM levels were 41% higher, on average, for TV viewers of the Olympics, and 84% higher for people following the Olympics on television and on the internet and/or mobile device.  People who are spending 3+ hours following the Olympics each day were 63% more likely to talk about the advertisers compared to the benchmark.

"Our study takes advantage of NBC's Olympics coverage — it's been called a 'billion dollar laboratory' — to test our hypothesis that advertising on TV and online is a powerful driver of consumer word of mouth and advocacy, which marketers already know is the most powerful channel to motivate purchasing," Ed Keller, CEO of  full-service WOM market research company Keller Fay, said in a statement. "Less than halfway through the Games, the results are already exceeding our expectations, with many more days remaining to build word of mouth momentum."  

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