Toyota makes up for low profile in PyeongChang with social media engagement
By Simon Ward and Daniel Smith
Toyota was the International Olympic Committee’s TOP sponsor that attracted most engagements on social media during the recent winter Olympic Games, as the Japanese car maker appeared to prioritise the online medium over a physical presence in PyeongChang.
Toyota attracted 2.4 million interactions between 9 and 26 February, the day after the closing ceremony, according to figures compiled by Sportcal Media and Hookit, the social media intelligence platform.
These derived from 191 social media posts (for Olympic and non-Olympic content), and the average of 12,774 interactions per post was also the highest for one of the worldwide Olympic partners.
Toyota signed up as a TOP sponsor in 2015 (pictured), in a deal running to 2024 worth a reported ¥100 billion (now $937 million), but did not join the programme until 2017, because rival Japanese car company Nissan was a domestic sponsor of the Rio 2016 summer Olympics.
PyeongChang 2018 was therefore the first games at which Toyota would have commercial rights, but it opted to keep a low profile in South Korea, and sent only a few dozen representatives to the games, while Korean car makers Hyundai and Kia were domestic sponsors, and provided a fleet of about 4,100 vehicles.
Special dispensation had been given to Pyeongchang 2018 to sign its own exclusive car sponsorship deal, given the unique dominance of Hyundai and Kia in their local market.
Toyota’s logo was, therefore, nowhere to be seen in PyeongChang, but it still had the right to use the Olympics logos in its advertising elsewhere in the world where it launched an international campaign called ‘Start Your Impossible’ featuring real-life stories of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
However, Toyota will undoubtedly have a much larger presence around the 2020 Olympic Games, given that they take place in Tokyo, the capital of its home market Japan.
Online and offline activation is important for sponsors seeking to promote their association with the Olympics, because of the IOC's 'clean' venue policy at the games.
During the PyeongChang winter Olympics, soft drinks giant Coca-Cola, a long-time IOC partner, generated 1.6 million social media interactions, making it the only TOP sponsor other than Toyota to pass the 1-million mark.
The top three was rounded out by Intel, the computer technology giant and an Olympics debutant, with 661,000 interactions.
It finished just ahead of another first-time Olympics sponsor in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, with 650,000 interactions.
However, Alibaba had a higher average per post, with 3,011, versus 2,531, for Intel.
For further details of the Sportcal Media and Hookit findings from the winter Olympics click here.
Intel rolled out a dedicated Olympics campaign called ‘Experience the Moment’ to promote its virtual reality technology at the PyeongChang games. It also offered a 5G technology showcase and was responsible for the memorable drone light shows at the opening and closing ceremonies.
This could help to explain why it was the most-cited TOP sponsor across all social media during the winter Olympics.
The games were mentioned almost 18 million times on social media in English, Spanish, French and German between 9 and 25 February, according to Brandwatch figures reported by PR Week.
Of those mentions, 16.7 million were in English, and, of that total, 0.4 per cent related to one of the TOP partners.
Intel accounted for 32 per cent of the mentions, more than double the share of any other company.
Samsung, the consumer electronics corporation, accounted for the second-most mentions among the worldwide Olympic partners, with 14 per cent, as it looked to capitalise on the first winter Olympics held in its home country of South Korea.
Next were Toyota and Visa, both on 9 per cent, ahead of General Electric, on 8 per cent, Omega, on 7 per cent, Dow, on 6 per cent, and Coca-Cola, on 5 per cent.
The list is rounded out by Atos and Procter & Gamble, both on 3 per cent, Alibaba, on 2 per cent, and Bridgestone and Panasonic, both on 1 per cent.
The TOP sponsors will now be developing campaigns for the next two Olympic Games, both of which will also be in the Far East, the 2020 summer edition in Tokyo and the 2022 winter edition in Beijing.