The 30th Olympic Games are here and no one has stressed the fact that things have changed a lot since their first edition—and not only in the sports arena.

The slender, sinewy bodies that have been on view in London since July 27 are a far cry from the athletes competing in Athens 116 years ago, when sports were a rather amateur thing.  Big changes have also come about in sporting requirements, the environment, the number of people witnessing this major event, and of course in advertising, which was previously non-existent due to the absence of media such as television, newspapers, radio, and now Internet and social networks.

But what is the relationship between sports and advertising? Many will say that there is none, but the experts know that today the two go hand-in-hand in direct proportion.

Sports provide a great opportunity for brands to bet on athletes, not only at the Olympics, but also in World Cup soccer; at the recent Euro Cup played in Ukraine and Poland; in national and international sports competitions; and in professional competitions in various sports disciplines.  The Super Bowl is a perfect case study.  The cost of airing a 30-second TV spot runs between $3.5 million and $4 million and has become the ideal vehicle for having millions of fans see the new spots that will set trends in the advertising world.

Super Bowl aside, let’s talk about London 2012. Coca-Cola developed an interactive campaign in which it filmed the spot live and the audience sent it viral as a teaser on Facebook and Twitter.  The spot featured Mark Ronson and Katy B. with the song "Anywhere in the World," which is Coca-Cola’s Olympic anthem.  There is also a mini-site where people can make their own version of the song (www.coca-cola.com/theolympics). Five athletes are featured in the spot: Mexico's Maria Espinoza, tae kwon do athlete; Russia’s Kseniya Vdovina, who runs on a treadmill; Great Britain’s Darius Knight, who plays ping-pong; Singapore’s Dayyan Jaffar, archery; and  American hurdler David Oliver.

At the national level in Chile, we have already seen DirecTV’s commercials featuring Tomás Gonzalez (gymnast), Kristel Köbrich (archery) and Denise Van Lamoen (swimming), appealing to their good chances of winning medals for our country.

Brands and athletes are often thrust into the limelight in major sporting events, since they are a natural combination. If an athlete achieves great success, those successes will be associated to brands both indirectly ? by advertising and sporting achievements ? or respectively, opening up opportunities for both. Who will triumph in these Olympics?

Manuel Pizarro is a publicist for the Universidad de las Américas with extensive industry experience. He has also taught at the UNIACC and Universidad Central y del Pacífico. Pizarro serves as a permanent member of the creative committee at IAB Chile and is currently Chief Digital Officer at the Promoplan advertising agency.

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