The summer of sport presents a great marketing opportunity, but do brands risk alienating audeinces by relying on visuals of toned, young athletes? Jacqueline Bourke, Head of Creative Insights EMEA for iStock, highlights that the Olympic Games offers a great opportunity for businesses to celebrate togetherness and be more relatable by showing people of all abilities and body types taking part in sport.
The long-awaited Olympic Games have certainly not disappointed. It might have been five years in the making but Team GB has already taken home many stand-out wins; from Tom Daley and Matty Lee snapping up Gold in the men’s synchronised diving to Charlotte Worthington winning the first-ever BMX freestyle Olympic gold with her breath-taking 360-degree backflip.
Beyond the celebration and enjoyment, we experience watching the Olympics it also creates a unique opportunity for businesses to connect with their customers on a topic that resonates with so many: sport. Whichever industry you’re in, the feelings of celebration and togetherness the Olympics evoke are common themes which unite and engage all communities and customers.
At iStock, we’ve pulled together four key marketing tips for effectively using the summer of sport to drive greater engagement among customers.
Be inclusive and relatable
Whilst Simone Biles has made her incredible gymnastic feats look effortless in the past, the Olympic champion has been open about the struggles she’s faced in these Games. After experiencing the ‘twisties’ which led to Biles withdrawing from several competitions, she discussed the importance of looking after her mental health, stating that “my physical and mental health is above all medals I could win”.
It is a valuable reminder that athletes, along with everyone else, experience the challenges and pressures of real life. It’s important when visualising sport to therefore ensure your images are relatable.
Show people of all abilities and confidence levels taking part and select visuals which reflect real life rather than just relying on stereotypical images of successful, young athletes. Consider also the variety of fitness on offer, from wheelchair basketball to senior yoga and running buggy groups and ensure you are also including intersectional identities such as body shapes, types, sizes, abilities, age and gender.
Consider emotional as well as physical fitness
While a lot of people expected to see images of Tom Daley diving to gold in the Games, it came as a surprise for many to see him knitting in the stands during the competition. Daley credits learning to knit and crochet as helping him get through the Olympics, signifying just how important it is to look after your emotional wellbeing – and people overwhelmingly agree; according to our iStock Visual GPS research which regularly surveys over 10,000 people globally, 93% believe it is equally important to take care of themselves emotionally as well as physically.
So, when thinking about fitness and exercise, consider it holistically and show the emotional rewards people get from taking pro-active self-care moments such as a walk-in nature or taking time out for a relaxing hobby.
Consider also the ways in which they are embracing fitness to help decompress from the stresses of daily life. Include visuals which represent a broad spectrum of proactive self care moments, this could be anything from eating healthier to working out with a friend in the garden.
Visualise the joys of nature
Watching the Games this summer have inspired many to get outside and get active, with searches on iStock for ‘family outdoors’ increasing by 60% and searches for ‘mother nature’ rising by 131%. Particularly as 2021 is still the summer of staycation for many, people are increasingly exploring the beauty of the British countryside and re-connecting with nature.
Consider the different ways in which people are embracing the outdoors in your visual content, this could be a hiking trip with friends, camping out with the kids or even just playing a game of table tennis in the garden. Particularly visualising the mindful ways in which people are engaging in outdoor activities will resonate well with your customers of all ages.
The Olympics have brought many people together this summer, with our research showing that 86% of people globally look for ways to celebrate the good things in their life.
Consider visualising the joy and celebration people feel from coming together to watch their favourite sport, whether that’s a simple barbeque with friends in the garden to watching the Games at the pub.
Whilst some people still might not feel comfortable in large gatherings it’s worth also considering the ways in which many people are connecting virtually and celebrating with loved ones from afar. We know this is incredibly important to people as according to our research, 82% say technology helps them feel connected to others.
After a year of lockdown and the continued stress of the pandemic, the summer of sport marks an opportunity for businesses, whatever their industry, to connect and celebrate with their customers.
By Jacqueline Bourke
Head of Creative Insights EMEA