By: Daniel Sweeney On: August 14, 2012 In: Advertising & Marketing Comments: 0

With the Summer Olympics coming to a close, we may not have Lolo Jones or Ryan Lochte gracing our television sets every day, but we can at least look forward to them inevitably becoming spokespersons for Subway, McDonald’s, etc.

But as advertising and marketing professionals, what can we take away from the London Games, other than confirmation that Usain Bolt is very, very fast? Turn out, a whole lot. Athletes, just likes businesses, have brands to build and maintain. Wildly successful and likeable athletes are almost just as visible during the Olympics’ off years as they are during the Summer Games. Your brand must be relatable, strong and confident. Lucky for you we had the London Games on here at the office the past few weeks, and I took some notes on branding from some of the gold medalists.

Take it in Stride
McKayla Maroney went from darling to pariah for what appeared to be sour grapes after taking home a silver medal, instead of the anticipated gold. Just days later she found herself back in the good graces of Olympic fans with a Twitpic mocking her previous photo – her and her teammates are clearly “not impressed” by the pool being closed. Ah, the power of self deprecation.

Taking a failed or compromised campaign and making due is a great way to endear your company to consumers – it helps add a more relatable, human side to your company’s brand and personality. For instance, earlier this summer Sheets launched a campaign to send recording artist Pitbull to the WalMart store with the highest number of Facebook Page Likes.

The campaign was eventually highjacked by noted Internet humorist David Thrope, who used the #ExilePitbull hashtag to help the campaign gain steam on Twitter – looking to get a remote WalMart in Kodiak, Alaska the most Likes. Low and behold, Thorpe and his campaign prevailed and the Kodiak WalMart was set to host Pitbull. Instead of backing off of the original campaign’s promise, Sheets stayed true to their word and Pitbull happily headed up to Alaska. Que buen trabajo Señor Calle Ocho.

People Like a Little Confidence
Usain Bolt has run his way into the hearts of viewers worldwide over the past four years – primarily for his dominance on the track as well as his fun-loving, charismatic, bordering on cocky personality.

But really, especially in advertising and marketing, there’s nothing wrong with a little confidence. There’s nothing wrong with harping on a particular award or honor your company’s received, it helps boost credibility and shows assuredness. So go ahead and toot your own horn, just make sure you can back it up.

The Road to Redemption is Paved with Gold
Just months after dominating the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Michael Phelps found himself in a bit of hot water thanks to a very unflattering photo of him with a pipe during his offseason. So how Phelps get back in the good graces of the public? By continuing to do and say the right things following the incident…oh and becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time might have had something to do with it.

The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf proved to be a massive disaster for the environment, wrecking BP’s reputation in the process. Slapped with hundreds of lawsuits, thousands of check claims and millions of dollars in civil fines, BP has slowly worked towards rebuilding not only the Gulf environment, but its own image and brand.

The company has pledged millions to help rehab the Gulf environment ravaged by the Deepwater Horizon disaster and put together a series of television and radio spots promoting tourism in the region. It’s likely to take many years before anyone forgets about the oil spill, but the grants and tourism aid are certainly steps in the right direction.