Olympic athletes marketing impact through social media banned 2014 Sochi games.

The first big story of the Olympics wasn’t the first gold medal winners or the underlying human rights violations but more prevalent is the hash tag #sochiproblems. As the mass majority of the worlds athletes and journalists traveled to Sochi they began to find issues as unfit amenities such as questionable toilets and yellow murky tap water in the Olympic village. The hastag quickly became popular and became a Twitter account. The account @SochiProblems has grown to 340,000 followers which makes that 120,000 more followers than the actual @Sochi2014 account.

One reason why @SochiProblems might have had such a large and quick following is because the International Olympic Committee banned on athletes and other accredited personnel from posting videos or audio of events, and competitions taking place at Olympic Venues or the Olympic Village. Also participants are allowed to post content and photos, however the IOC requires that all posts must be in first-person, diary-type format. These social media restraints are put in place for only allowing participants to communicate with friends and family and supporters, but not for commercial and advertising for possible sponsors.

The Olympics are the biggest stage for any athlete and for most, it is their time to stand out, market, and brand themselves. Social media is being used and managed to limit athletes ability to brand and sponsor themselves. We can see success in the Olympics gives participants overnight followers and in turn, future sponsors. Sage Kotesenburg is an example of having gained 43,000 followers since winning the games first gold medal in snowboarding. That’s not too bad for a kid from Park City, Utah that has been riding and snowboarding for all his life now, having the exposure and following to attract large sponsors. Also athletes that have sponsorships are not allowed to post about brands unless they have been approved by the IOC.

My opinion on the social media banned for athletes is that they should be able to further themselves, their legacy, and build their brand because there is no better time to market themselves. The social media ban was initially to limit athletes talking “smack” and for talking bad about the conditions in Sochi. However I feel with the creation and popularity of #sochiproblems the media ban was less effective and ultimately hindered athletes ability to have sponsors and market themselves.

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