Brands Reach for Gold With Olympic Themed Packaging
With the Summer Olympics set to get underway on Friday, fans of the games can expect to see a steady stream of all of the iconic images associated with the event. There are the five interlocking rings, the torch that carries the Olympic flame, the medals that adorn the necks of the world's greatest athletes...and Coca-Cola?
That last one may seem out of place, but you might be surprised by just how intertwined the Games and Coke are. Coca-Cola has been a sponsor of the Olympics longer than any other company, since 1928 according to allBusiness. Therefore, it only makes sense that Coca-Cola would release Olympic-branded packaging for the Summer Games. This year, the packaging will be part of "#ThatsGold," an extension of the "one-brand" marketing strategy, which aims to unite all four trademark Coke brands, according to the company's website.
As part of the campaign, Coca-Cola will release packaging in support of the U.S. Olympic teams. Cans of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero will feature the names and silhouettes of six athletes who are all taking part in the #ThatsGold campaign, including soccer player Alex Morgan, track and field athlete Ashton Eaton, paralympian Tatyana McFadden, swimmer Nathan Adrian, track and field athlete Leo Manzano and gymnast Nastia Liukin.
Golf phenom Jordan Spieth, was originally slated to be included in the campaign, but in July announced that he would not be competing in the Olympics. In response, Coca-Cola has announced that a silhouette of a golfer will appear on some packaging, but Spieth's name will not be included, according to Sports Business Daily. With Spieth's announcement coming so close to the start of the games, Coke should consider itself lucky that it was able to prevent the packaging from making it to market.
Not only will the brand's namesake sodas — Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero — sport the Olympic rings and colors, some of Coca-Cola's other brands will also join in on the limited-edition packaging.
The company released a video on behalf of Powerade — the official sports drink of the Olympics — with the tagline "Fueling Olympians in Rio 2016." The packaging will include the Olympic rings, which is fitting, considering Powerade was launched at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, according to Convenience World.
But it's not just Team USA that will receive the Olympic packaging treatment. Andrew Bogut, an Australian native and member of the 2015 NBA Championship-winning Golden State Warriors, who has since joined the Dallas Mavericks, will be the face of Powerade in Australia during the Olympics.
Wheaties on the other hand, won't be featuring current Olympians on its cereal boxes, instead opting to depict Olympic icons from past Summer Games. The boxes will feature Janet Evans, Greg Louganis and Edwin Moses, as part of the "Wheaties Legend" series.
“This is an opportunity for Wheaties to highlight past champions who haven’t yet received the honor of being on a Wheaties box for their past athletic achievements,” says Jenna Lynch, senior associate marketing manager for Wheaties in a post on General Mills' blog. "Janet, Greg and Edwin are all world-class athletes both for the medals they won, and everything they accomplished during their careers.”
The move to black and white images, as opposed to full-color action shots of current athletes, are reminiscent of Wheaties boxes from decades ago — namely the now-famous Bruce Jenner version — could this be packaging that is speaking to the nostalgia-seeker in all of us?
Some sponsors are going a more subtle route. Chobani, for example, will include the official Team USA shield and Olympic rings on its packaging during the promotional period, as well as inspirational, personalized messages from Olympic athletes on the inside of the lid. The company will also be releasing three limited-edition “Rio-inspired” flavors in colorful packaging.
The Official Beer Sponsor of Team USA, Budweiser, launched new packaging in a move of hyper-patriotism earlier this summer. The King of Beers replaced its namesake on cans and labels with "America," in preparation for Fourth of July celebrations and the Olympic Games. Although the packaging came under some scrutiny, it has given the brand a lot of recognition. Budweiser also released another version of cans and aluminum bottles featuring the Statue of Liberty torch, inspired by the six 2016 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls from Team Budweiser.
And who could forget about America's beloved chocolate bar, Hershey's, which changed its packaging for the first time in 122 years in advance of the Olympic Games in Rio. The trademark silver Hershey’s milk chocolate bar lettering was replaced with red, white and blue lettering to honor its partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“Hershey is truly one of America’s most iconic and beloved companies and we are incredibly proud and honored to support Team USA and begin our journey with the United States Olympic Committee,” said Mary-Ann Somers, VP, North American Confection, The Hershey Company, in a press release. “Both Hershey and Team USA share a unique, irreplaceable place in the hearts, lives and memories of many Americans; we want our country and athletes to know that Hershey is here to help bring moments of goodness and patriotic pride throughout the games and beyond.”
No matter the extent of the design change, many sponsors of the Olympic Games are showing their support through packaging. What better way to let consumers know about sponsorship than to put a reminder directly in their hands?
Now, let the games begin!