CBC asks Canadians to ‘cheer the world’ at Rio Olympics

Public broadcaster plans campaign spanning awareness to anticipation

The Olympics are usually characterized by patriotic fervour, but CBC/Radio-Canada is taking a more worldly approach to its marketing strategy for the upcoming Rio Games.

Bonnie Brownlee, the CBC’s executive director of communications marketing and brand, said that the public broadcaster’s “Cheer the World” (“On a tous rendez-vous”) tagline is intended to reflect both Canada’s multi-cultural makeup and the broad appeal of the Summer Games.

Because Canada is a cold-weather nation that topped the medal table at the 2010 Vancouver Games and finished third in Sochi in 2014, Canadians tend to be more focused on their own athletes’ performance during the Winter Games. The Summer Games, however, offer viewers – many of whom hail from other countries – a chance to celebrate the feats of athletes from other nations.

Nadia Flaim, communications and marketing manager, sports and Olympic Games programming for the CBC, said the tagline is intended to underscore both the athletic and human moments that occur during the Games, and convey the message that the Rio Games offer an opportunity for Canadians to be part of “something bigger.”

“We want to allow Canadians to experience the culture and the flare of Rio,” she said. “We’re going to take them somewhere and tell them a story.”

The tagline is also versatile, she said, allowing CBC/Radio-Canada to use it in marketing materials as well as corporate communications and in tactical messages such as the opening/closing ceremonies, announcing the on-air talent and the technical platforms it will use to showcase the Games (eg: “Cheer the world with CBC’s Olympic Games app.”).

A 30-second TV and online spot called “Moments” that launched on Saturday highlights memorable moments featuring both Canadian and international athletes at the Summer Games. They include British athlete Derek Redmond’s father helping him complete the 400m race with a torn hamstring at the 1992 Barcelona Games, and sprinter Usain Bolt’s 100m world-record in the 100 metres at the 2008 Beijing Games.

The spot also showcases memorable Canadian performances, including Donovan Bailey’s 100m win at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The spot is spearheading what Brownlee called the “awareness” part of the public broadcaster’s Olympic marketing efforts. It will transition to an “interest” strategy on April 27 – which kicks off the 100-day countdown to the opening ceremonies – before the final “anticipation” phase featuring paid and owned media platforms debuts.

Future marketing is expected to include out-of-home executions that will bring some of the Olympics’ athletic achievements to life for fans, such as a planned execution marking the height of the Olympic high jump record.

“It’s layering in the different types of creative that will connect Canadians to the final product,” said Flaim. Marketing is also expected to include print, radio, digital and experiential, with media handled by Interpublic Group’s Initiative.

She said that public broadcaster’s brand promise to Canadians for the Rio Games is about taking them somewhere and telling them a story; ensuring they never meet an athlete for the first time they take the podium; creating a sense of togetherness and belonging through the event; and continuing to provide a “best seat in the house experience” for viewers.

The Olympics are a guaranteed ratings driver for CBC, particularly since Rio is just two hours ahead of Toronto, but Brownlee said that one of the key objectives of the marketing campaign is making viewers aware of the Olympic athletes prior to the Games.

CBC will offer 1,275 hours of TV programming from Rio, as well as more than 2,000 hours of digital coverage. The broadcaster has confirmed 11 sponsors for the Rio Games, and recently tapped former Shaw Media sales executive Errol Da-Ré to oversee its Olympic sales efforts.

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