Ocean Outdoor

The out-of-home torchbearers

At the Olympic Games, out-of-home has embraced the power of digital - culminating in Ocean's content partnership with Team GB for Rio 2016.

Out-of-home advertising is evolving as it embraces digital technology. And nowhere is this more apparent than in advertising for the Olympic Games.

The Games aren’t just a contest of sports – they are a hotbed of creative endeavour as advertisers jockey for position with ever-more innovative examples of display advertising. From making use of eye-catching locations to inspiring creative, the Olympics have led to some iconic work. 

Digital out-of-home has sparked a new wave of creativity in out-of-home advertising, with Rio 2016 set to be a showcase for the medium’s potential. Ocean is stepping up to the challenge as the official media provider to Team GB at Rio 2016.

The British Olympic Association chief executive, Bill Sweeney, says of Team GB’s "always-on" philosophy: "Digital out-of-home is the perfect platform for both our communications strategy and the wider distribution of our content." 

To celebrate how far we’ve come, we have rounded up a selection of the best creative work from the past five Olympic Games – showcasing the evolution from conventional out-of-home advertising to the new opportunities presented by digital out-of-home.

1996: ‘For the fans’
Coca-Cola, Atlanta

Perhaps inspired by the fact that the Games were taking place in its home town, Coca-Cola shifted away from a celebrity-led sports sponsorship strategy to make Atlanta 1996 "for the fans".

The campaign, devised by Wieden & Kennedy, used films, posters and print to celebrate the enthusiasm of fans and the difference they make to the outcome of sporting events – and how Coca-Cola sponsorship helped make a difference to aspirant athletes.

It’s an early indicator of how Olympic brands have involved fans in their campaigns.

2000: Olympic Rendezvous @ Samsung
Samsung, Sydney

Samsung Rendezvous ad from the 2000 Sydney Olympics
Olympic Rendevous @ Samsung

Location is everything – and, for the 2000 Olympic Games, Samsung set about creating its own iconic location, building an Olympic Rendezvous pavilion that transformed an old car park into a massive entertainment complex framed by 20-metre-high sails. 

Inside, the space played host to live entertainment, video coverage and a digital hub that engaged fans by encouraging them to share memorable moments from the Games with friends and family using Samsung mobile phones. 

A precursor to today’s digital out-of-home sites that combine iconic locations with interactivity on a grand public scale.

2004: ‘Impossible is nothing’
Adidas, Athens

Adidas 'Impossible is nothing' ad
Adidas 'Impossible is nothing'

Sometimes, you just have to go big or go home. Adidas adapted its "impossible is nothing" campaign to coincide with its Olympic sponsorship, taking the concept of out-of-home advertising to a new level with "wallscape" advertising on the sides of buildings in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami.

And in Hong Kong and Japan’s Osaka, the brand went a step – or, rather, a sprint – further, turning a massive billboard into a 100-metre vertical running track, with athletes suspended on cables sprinting up the side of a 32-storey building.

Outdoor advertising as live spectacle – and a sporting contest in its own right.

2008: ‘Together in 2008’
Adidas, Beijing

Adidas' 'Together in 2008' ad for the Beijing Olympics
Adidas ‘together in 2008’

TBWA became the first Chinese agency to win a gold Lion at Cannes for this – Adidas’ biggest marketing campaign ever created and rolled out in a single market.

Evolving Adidas’ "impossible is nothing" campaign, it showcased the role of the fans in bolstering China’s Olympic athletes, using a striking combination of photography and illustration.

A great example of how a global brand’s message can focus on a local audience – using stunning, iconic imagery.

2012: ‘Thanks for the warm-up’
Channel 4, London

Channel 4's 'Thanks for the warm-up' ad for the London 2012 Paralympic Games
Channel 4 ‘thanks for the warm-up’

The powerful Channel 4 campaign in 2012 brought the Paralympic Games to a wider audience than ever before – treating the Olympics as a "warm-up" for the main event. The striking poster campaign made use of a stripped-back, simple visual – and, on digital executions, a countdown timer. 

Digital out-of-home was used to reinforce public interest in the competition through a combination of breaking news, images and live medals tables that highlighted Team GB’s achievements – helping London 2012 become the first Paralympic Games to sell out.

2012: The Fan Hub
Heineken, London

Heineken, The Fan Hub

There are few things more social than sharing a drink – so it’s fitting that the Olympic Games’ beer sponsor seized on the opportunity to bring people together using digital out-of-home.

Starcom Mediavest Group and Iris London teamed up to create the Fan Hub website, combining Tweets, guides to where to watch the Games, photos, Olympic facts and live updates alongside a fan-generated photo stream.

The best photos were distributed, via Grand Visual’s OpenLoop, to digital out-of-home screens at London Underground and rail stations, as well as Westfield shopping centre – encouraging fans to share their celebrations on the big screen.

2012: ‘Sharing the passion’
Panasonic, London

Panasonic ‘sharing the passion’ ad
Panasonic ‘sharing the passion’

2012 was the point at which the Olympic Games went truly social – with widespread mainstream adoption of social media.

Panasonic responded with its spectacular "sharing the passion" campaign – encouraging fans to submit photos through its Facebook page, which were then overlaid with "flag tags" and posted to Ocean’s Two Towers East location.

The official Olympic photographer, Getty Images, joined in too, with its imagery appearing on the displays in real time.

Combining digital out-of-home and social media, it was a first for an Olympic sponsor and one that set a precedent for future interactive campaigns. 

2016: ‘Bring on the great’ 
Team GB, national

The 2016 Team GB 'Bring on the Great' outdoor ad on the Southern Terrace at Westfield
Team GB 'bring on the great'

As the nation gears up for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, all eyes are on  Team GB – and on the digital out-of-home campaigns that are connecting fans with Britain’s athletes.

This year has already seen Team GB’s "bring on the great" campaign roll out across Ocean’s nationwide networks. Digital out-of-home is set to make the 2016 Olympic Games the most connected experience ever for Team GB and all the fans. 

Team GB are aiming to engage in a more experiential way with audiences through real-time content, announcements and highlights including record-breaking victories and medal wins by the squad in the build-up to and during the Games.


More from the Media Week Annual


The out-of-home torchbearers


The science of engagement


The nostalgia resurgence


Pace of change is speeding up