The big ad dollars behind this year’s fanless Olympics

Brands are spending $1m a pop on Olympics ad spots.

Some 11k athletes have convened in Tokyo for this year’s Olympics. Unfortunately, there won’t be any fans to see them do their thing.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t be watching from home, and companies are pouring big bucks into ad spots to catch their attention.

What kind of bucks we talkin’?

NBCUniversal says it’s already surpassed the $1.2B in US ad revenue it banked in 2016’s Rio Olympics, and still has more slots to sell.

The price tag for 30-second ads hasn’t quite hit the ~$5m going rate for Super Bowl spots, but NBC’s reportedly charging $1m a pop.

Creating Olympics ads in 2021 wasn’t easy

David Droga, who leads an agency that made ads for Facebook highlighting skateboarders (now an Olympic sport), told The New York Times, “Advertisers don’t want to be too saccharine or too clever but are trying to find that right tone.”

Unsurprisingly, in that sense, United Airlines tossed out a campaign promoting flights to Tokyo.

And since you were wondering, yes, our No. 1 pick for an Olympics guerilla marketing campaign is the time Beats circumvented official rules and sent top athletes custom headphones to wear at the games.

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