Americans have a good reason to be a little more tired than usual today, and that reason can be summed up in two words: the Olympics. With coverage lasting late into the night, thousands of east coast televisions tuned in late these past two weeks as sleepy viewers cheered on their favorite athletes to gold. For this cause marketer, staying up late to watch the Olympics was a small price to pay for the joy Women’s Gymnastics brought me as they won gold, taking me back to 1996 all over again. Through the hours of coverage that consumed my evenings and weekends, I couldn’t help but notice something missing: cause marketing.
I have to commend London. The motto of these games, “inspire a generation,” encompasses the Olympic spirit and sets the stage for influencing millions of people to become involved in athletics, something that will undoubtedly make a significant, positive difference in their lives. Commercials like AT&T’s “New Possible” series about young athletes aspiring to set the new world record that US Olympians set during this year’s games, P&G’s “Thank You Mom” series and Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign are motivational and inspiring. Yet through all of these positive messages, where are the causes?
Advertisers during the Olympics have a chance to reach a highly engaged audience. The audience is ready to be motivated, inspired and touched. The advertisers that are spreading positivity like AT&T, P&G and Nike at least fall in line with the Olympic spirit, but cause marketing did not show up to this year’s games. Isn’t the Olympic stage the perfect opportunity to encourage youth to stop smoking so they can reach their dreams of one day becoming an Olympian? What about encouraging the country to take a pledge to exercise for 30 minutes a day (while wearing branded apparel, of course)? Isn’t the stage the perfect opportunity to show our country’s role models recycling and driving fuel-efficient cars because it’s the right thing to do?
With all of this opportunity to influence positive behavior change, I was a little let down not to see a single cause campaign win the gold in the minds of inspired viewers. (My disclaimer here is I also have not watched every minute of Olympic coverage. That’s impossible to do while maintaining a career and family. However, if advertising giants had cause campaigns running, I know I would have witnessed at least one of the campaigns while spending my nights glued to prime time TV.)
Let’s mark this Olympics as a tremendous success in spreading positivity, kindness and motivation through advertising. In the future, I hope advertisers realize the amazing opportunity they have through national and worldwide event coverage to bring cause to the forefront of advertising and create a lasting impact on our world.