Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lenovo's amazing Olympics web campaign

I came across a wonderful blog post by Lenovo VP of Global Web Marketing David Churbuck. (Yes, he blogs about his marketing executions and other thoughts). As many of you may know, Lenovo was a global partner of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With this partnership in place, it is good sense to infuse the Olympics spirit in Lenovo's marketing. I believe that this particular execution counts as one of the best examples of social media marketing.

The big idea is simple, but let me use David's own words from his blog:
What [if] the main event were the athletes themselves? What if, using Google’s Blogger platform and YouTube capabilities, Lenovo could offer any athlete a way to share their Olympic experience with their fans, family, friends, even the world?

The background
The hackneyed strategy for Olympics sponsors, according to David, was to build an interactive program driven by a PR story or a raffle. However, for Lenovo, that was not enough: in fact, to David, it was a checklist item, not a strategy. As a "young brand seeking recognition as a global technology innovator on a global scale" David concluded that Lenovo needs more.

Note that the athletes mentioned here are not just the superstars like Michael Phelps or Shawn Johnson, but they focus more on the "normal" athlete - the no-named athlete to the media, the athlete who will not win a medal.

The execution - let me share the online components (of course, traditional media was there)
1. Equipping the athlete bloggers - To enable the athletes to blog, Lenovo gave away over 100 IdeaPad laptops and a video device. The qualification is that the athlete is passionate and a credible contender.

Chasnote reported,
Lenovo has created 100 athletes’ blogs in an attempt to align itself with some less mainstream sports, such as field hockey and modern pentathlon. It gave the athletes laptops and video cameras to chronicle their preparation for the games. We wanted to do something that shows our tech prowess, not something that uses the Web as billboard,’ said David Churbuck...

2. A microsite at called the "Lenovo Olympic Podiumpowered by iGoogle gadget technology. It's basically an iGoogle page with content focused on the Olympics. As the official Lenovo blog stated,

The Podium is a highly customizable experience built on iGoogle gadget technology, where a user, once signed in, can change the appearance and layout of the page and add custom modules, or gadgets, or related content. Existing Google account holders will automatically sign in to the system The team has focused on the creation of gadgets that stream content dynamically from:
  • News sources
  • Olympic athlete bloggers – we’re recruiting more than 100 athletes to blog on our new IdeaPad line of notebooks
  • Map interfaces using mashups of Google Maps and the Olympic Torch Relay route and the Beijing Olympic venues
  • YouTube videos related to the Games
  • Picasa photos from the Games

3. A Facebook campaign that allows people to identify with their countries, check medal tallies, and read blogs of athletes. It's shown strong success: downloaded more than 200,000 times.
Facebook allows for a wide spectrum of branded activity. On one end, you can just go for simple banner ads that can reach many people (impressions) but will have very little interactivity. Or one can create a specialized application that has high engagement and equity but will only reach very few people. I feel Lenovo has done amazing in this aspect, managing to hit it somewhere in the middle, with high reach and also high engagement. From an equity standpoint, it showed Lenovo's tech prowess (they enabled the athletes to blog). Also, this campaign has generated a lot of buzz (this blog is an example! and months after the 8/8/08!)

I believe it is hard to outdo what Lenovo did, but this shows the potential of partnering with well-recognized activities.

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