The Misunderstood Official Sponsor of London Olympics 2012: Nike’s Marketing Strategy.

Jan 15, 2024

The Misunderstood Official Sponsor of London Olympics 2012: Nike’s Marketing Strategy.

The 2012 London Olympics were a fierce competition not just for athletic glory but also for brand dominance. Armed with a substantial $150 million title sponsorship, Adidas seemed like the frontrunner. However, against all expectations, Nike, without the official title sponsorship, emerged as the undisputed champion with their legendary campaign “Find Your Greatness”.  This unexpected victory highlighted the notion that in the marketing warzone, rewriting the rules can be the key to success, proving that sometimes unconventional strategies outshine conventional expectations


Nike Creating History with “Find Your Greatness” Campaign:

In 2012 the Summer Olympics was hosted in london. Every sports brand was eager to become the title sponsor for this Olympics. Being the title sponsor of the Olympics is not just a sign of status but it is like a gold mine investment. Adidas won the title Sponsor bid $150 million thinking it was their golden Gateway to leave Nike behind.


What is so special about the title sponsorship of the Olympics that Adidas readily spent $150 million?
Dating 2012 Adidas has been the Official Sportswear Partner for 40 years since the partnership began in 1972. And Worldwide Olympic Partner for 20 years since joining the program in 1992. Till 2004 Adidas had a sale of well over € 100 million in China. After the 2008 Beijing Olympics adidas opened 1300 franchises across 250 different cities in China with a massive rise to € 1 billion of sales in China by 2010.
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The Olympic Rule Book:
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) along with Adidas enforces stringent regulations regarding sponsorship during the London Olympic Games so that no other brand could steal their thunder. Exclusive rights were granted only to official sponsors for the use of Olympic symbols and keyword phrases such as “Olympic Games,” “London 2012,” “Summer Olympics” and many more. Non-sponsors are forbidden from creating any association that implies an official connection with the Olympics. There was a general belief that Adidas, as the title sponsor, would skyrocket in popularity and achieve significant success.


After Effects:
In a survey conducted during the 2012 london Olympics, more people (37%) recognized Nike as an Olympic sponsor compared to Adidas (24%) who was the Official Sponsor. Among those who identified brands as sponsors, 54% felt more positive about Nike.

On social media, Nike dominated with over 16,020 tweets linking “Nike” and “Olympics,” while Adidas had nearly 9,300 similar tweets. Nike’s following grew by 11%, adding over 57,000 followers, while Adidas Originals saw a 4% growth with 12,000 added followers.


The success extended to Facebook, where Nike gained twice as many fans as Adidas during the 2012 Olympics. Overall, Nike’s strategic approach led to greater visibility and engagement compared to Adidas.
Information extracted from  Forbes Article: (


Legendary Nike Campaign:
How did Nike manage to get those above statistics and numbers although Adidas was the title sponsor and the rules and regulations were extremely strict for Nike…?
Nike Managed to Find 3 loopholes in the system and capitalized maximum on those.

1. Regardless of the title sponsor, the athletes had the freedom to pick the brand of their choice. Nike leveraged that and hired almost 400 athletes as brand ambassadors to wear their shoes and gear for the matches. Nike had come out with a core key lineup of shoes named VOLT that were yellowish green, perfectly contrasting to the Olympic tracks.

2. Nike was Prohibited from displaying London of United Kingdom in any commercial that they advertised. Luckily there are 28 other places in the world with the name London like London in Ohio, Little London in Jamaica, The London Hotel, Small Lonon in Nigeria, and many more where Nike Shot their commercial and could legally show the world london.

3. Most Nike commercials have big celebrities and athletes but  Nike was not permitted to endorse any Olympian in 2012 during the Olympics. Adidas was flaunting commercials with big athletes and brand ambassadors. Nike Decided to hire Local average teenagers as ambassadors for their Campaign. 


In the commercial, they harness the power of inspiration when they do not want to show Michael Phelps but they want to show the spirit and mentality of Michael Phelps in every individual in every common man who has the dreams to do something big.
And they Named this Campaign Find Your Greatness:
This ad was trending number 1 on YouTube 1 week into the Olympic staring.


Winding up:

Nike’s main goal was to show that every individual working hard to become a better version of themselves, Nike commercial will depict their story. And since Nike was able to het the local champions in the commercial that struck a chord with the audience which got the ad so much love and attraction. At iDigitize, we draw inspiration from such innovative campaigns, offering cutting-edge digital marketing solutions that go beyond the ordinary, propelling your company to new heights.


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