Since Sunday night’s closing ceremony at London’s Olympic Stadium, every digital trend watcher has been sussing out who won what has been dubbed the “Social Olympics.” Though Facebook and Twitter and many of their international equivalents were very much around during the Beijing games in 2008, all social platforms have grown significantly in size and function since then. So much so that almost every brand, popular athlete, and even the city of London itself launched high-profile social media campaigns encouraging users to include specific hashtags in their Tweets and post comments on their many photos, videos and other multi-media posts.


Two of the most prominent — and competing — brands in these Social Olympics were Adidas (an official Olympic sponsor) and Nike, a brand that sponsors hundreds of individual Olympians and Olympic teams, including the very popular U.S. swim and gymnastics teams. That’s right, every time Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney or any of their teammates flashed across your screen in their oversized gray windbreakers, that iconic Nike swoosh got an on-camera moment. Same with all those neon yellow Nike ‘Volt’ running shoes so many of the track and field athletes wore during competition–even those who didn’t place did Nike a huge favor by sporting the impossible-to-miss trainers. Even though the distinctive black and white Adidas stripes could be found on all official Olympic signage, the consensus is that Nike’s approach delivered a significantly greater social impact than Adidas’. Aided by their highly original, heartstrings-pulling “Find Your Greatnesstelevision spots, Nike hit every corner of the Olympic experience it could to get people talking about their brand–and it worked.


According to SocialBakers, more than 16,000 tweets associated the word “Nike” with the world Olympics, compared with just 9,300 associated with “Adidas.” On Twitter, @Nike‘s followers grew an impressive 11 percent from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, an addition of more than 57,000. @adidasoriginals, on the other hand, grew by just 4 percent (12,000 followers). This Twitter success can be largely attributed to Nike’s new #findgreatness hashtag, which was cleverly advertised (see above) on billboards and in heavily-trafficked tube trains. Over the past 30 days, #findgreatness outperformed Adidas’ long-running #takethestage by more than 7,000 Tweets. On Facebook, Nike saw similar growth, adding more than twice as many fans as Adidas: from the Olympics’ start to finish, Nike‘s fanbase increased by approximately 434,000 to Adidas’ 189,000. The Adidas Originals Facebook page‘s growth was even more anemic.


These results call into serious question the value of Adidas’ multi-million pound sponsorship of the Olympics, when Nike’s “guerrilla” success so clearly stole the gold at the Social Games.


L2’s inaugural Digital IQ Index: Sportswear report will be released on September 20th and feature research and rankings of 43 iconic brands, including Nike and Adidas.


(Images via Nike, Getty)


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