As collective viewing experiences go, it’s tough to beat two full weeks of patriotic competitive sport. Sure, people may be less likely to DVR a snowboarding or figure skating final than a new episode of True Detective, but perhaps even more important to advertisers is how heavily the Olympics rely on story to connect with people. No one watches speed skating on a regular basis between Olympiads, but give us a speed skater with a compelling story and that formerly anonymous athlete will have millions of fans cheering them on. You’ve met the Dufour-Lapointe sisters by now, right?
While they’ve been riddled with issues ranging from Russia’s stance on human rights to weather and doors, so far, the 2014 Sochi Games have beat NBC’s expectations for viewer ratings in the U.S. (even despite Bob Costas’s poison eye in HD), and viewership on digital platforms is up 54% compared with the Vancouver Games. That’s been one upside for advertisers who have reached out to every kind of Olympic viewer across platforms–and even got help from enterprising fans: see the unofficial Audi ad that takes a shot at Sochi’s opening ceremony glitch.
On the legit side of things, P&G has its tearjerker tribute to Mom on TV, while others like the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Guinness and the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion (CIDI) have made their biggest impact online. Then there’s the earned media juggernaut that is Molson’s beer fridge.
Which ones are the medal winners? Find out in the gallery above.