Which brands are winning the conversation in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics?

With just days until what is undoubtedly the biggest sporting event in the world, here at EntSight we’ve set out to discover how Olympics fans are talking about four of the biggest sponsors in the run up to the Rio 2016 Games.

Reaching billions of people in over 200 countries and territories, not only will the ‘Games of the XXXI Olympiad’ be the biggest sporting event in the world, it is likely they will be one of the most talked about events and one of the most effective international marketing platforms.

Olympic and Paralympic Sponsorship

As with any large scale event commercial sponsorship is vital, and the Olympics and Paralympics are no exception to the rule.  The Olympic Partner (TOP) Programme is the ‘highest level of Olympic Sponsorship, granting category-exclusive marketing rights to the Summer, Winter and Youth Olympic Games to a select group of global partners’.

Sponsors agree to a deal which operates on a four-year term in line with each Olympiad and currently the TOP Programme is made up of the following 11 multi-national companies; Coca Cola, McDonalds, Visa, Bridgestone, Samsung, Panasonic, Omega, Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Dow, and Atos - with combined revenues exceeding $1 Billion USD. 

We tracked and analysed available social data from the past two months (in this case sourced using Brandwatch) to identify how the general public perceive the involvement of four of the biggest Olympic Partners in the Games.

The Brands 

To get an understanding of conversation about sponsors so far we picked four key brands for our analysis:

Coca Cola: The world’s largest beverage company have been sponsoring the Olympics since the 1928 Amsterdam Games; making them the longest serving Olympic Partner. This year Coca Cola are marking the Games with their newest campaign, #ThatsGold.

McDonalds: This brand are veterans when it comes to sponsoring the Olympics, and will be celebrating a 40-year partnership with the Olympic Movement at this year’s games. Their latest digital campaign #FriendsWin is feel-good initiative designed to increase the awareness of children’s participation in the Rio Games’ opening ceremony.

Samsung: As the Olympic partner in the Wireless Communication Equipment category, Samsung are aiming to make the Rio 2016 games the most connected ever. Not only have Samsung developed the official Rio 2016 app, they have released a Limited Edition Samsung S7 Edge smartphone to celebrate the event, and produced a ‘World National Anthem’ to celebrate the Olympic principles.

Visa: Since 1986, Visa have been a partner of the Games, and since 2008 Beijing Games they have been the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Games. During the Rio 2016 Games, for the first time ever, Visa will individually sponsor all 10 members of the IOC’s refugee team. 

The Overall Picture:


By analysing data relating to the biggest four brand, we immediately identified that Samsung were the most discussed by a significant amount. Despite McDonald’s being a long term sponsor of the Olympic Games, and one of the world’s most recognisable brands, they received a significantly smaller share of the online conversation – just 3%.

Samsung can attribute much of the large volumes of online conversation to three key announcements: their plans to partner with NBC to broadcast the games in virtual reality, a Limited Edition Rio 2016 version of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, and the release of their ‘World’s National Anthem’ video. 



In addition to receiving the lowest volume of conversation, McDonalds also received the highest share of conversation with negative sentiment. A large percentage of this was from fans sharing their opinions on a fast-food chain sponsoring a sporting event.

Just 1% of Samsung’s and Visa’s online conversation was identified as negative. Samsung’s ‘World National Anthem’ and Visa’s sponsorship of the IOC’s refugee team was received very well by online audiences. Many users turned to social media to share their positive feelings towards both announcements.

Coca Cola received the largest share of positive conversation. Fans of the drinks brand discussed the Coca Cola sponsored Torch Relay, shared social media posts published by the brand and posted their own photos of relating to the #ThatsGold campaign. 

Key Topics

To pinpoint how conversation differed between the four brands, we used Brandwatch to analyse conversation around popular topics. 



The most discussed topic in relation to Coca Cola and the Rio 2016 Games was the Portuguese phrase Isso ÉOuro, which translates to "This is Gold", and is the popular campaign tagline being used by Coca Cola in Brazil.

The majority of the online conversation surrounding Coca Cola and the Rio 2016 Games was from Portugese speaking users. Other key topics included ‘Tocha Olimpica Rio 2016’ and ‘Rio 2016 IssoÉOuro’



Those talking about McDonalds and the Rio 2016 Games spoke about McDonald’s campaign hashtag #FriendsWin, McDonalds Rio 2016 and the Winter Olympics.  The Friends Win campaign tagline was mentioned just 215 times between June 1st and August 1st 2016, compared to over 2100 times for Coca Cola’s Isso ÉOuro. 



Online users who discussed Samsung and the Rio 2016 Games focused around the Limited Edition Olympic themed smartphone. The Galaxy S7 Edge was mentioned over 9500 times. Much of this conversation was started by News Sites and was later shared across social media.

Other users discussed Samsung and NBC’s plans to broadcast over 85 hours of the Games in virtual reality, and the brand’s World’s National Anthems commercial. The official Samsung campaign tagline was mentioned 1300 times in the two months leading up to the games.



When audiences discussed the Rio 2016 Games in relation to Visa, the brand’s campaign was widely mentioned - however some of this conversation related to a Reuters’ news article which announced the launch of the campaign despite ‘difficulties in host country Brazil.’  Other topics included TeamVisa, the Visa sponsored refugee team of 42 athletes from across the world. 


Both females and males discussed each brand in similar volumes, with Samsung remaining as the most talked about Olympic sponsor, with McDonalds being the least talked about.  


Coca Cola saw a larger share of females discussing the brand's involvement in the Olympics than males - suggesting that their #ThatsGold campaign has resonated better with this group so far. Samsung saw a higher share of conversation with males than females, whilst VISA and McDonalds saw around the same.

Sport vs TV Interests

As we dug deeper into the interests of audiences discussed the four sponsors and the Rio 2016 Games, we saw those identified as having a keen interest in Sport mentioning Samsung more than the other brands analysed. Coca Cola was discussed the second most and Visa third.  While talking about the Games online users with an interest in Sport focused on the Torch Relay and the Coke Rewards scheme.


With an estimated 5 billion people expected to watch the Games on TV’s across the world over the coming two weeks, we also looked into the conversations from those who had expressed a strong interest in TV. Whilst this audience still showed a preference for Samsung, it was interesting to see that VISA has a visibly larger share with this group than with the Sports audience.

Gold Medal for Samsung?

In conclusion, it is clear to see that so far Samsung are the likely champions of online conversion when it comes to partnering with the Rio 2016 Games, not only in volume of conversation but the positive PR surrounding their latest products and campaigns too.

Over the coming two weeks, we expect to see much more online conversation surrounding the Olympic Partners and their involvement in the Rio 2016 Games, and we’ll be closely watching to see how trends in online and social conversation emerge and evolve.

If you're interested in learning more about the Audience Intelligence solutions we offer here at EntSight, then take a look at our website to find out more or drop us a message.

James Box

James Box

EntSight Audience Analyst