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B2B Brands Going for the Gold

B2B Brands Going for the Gold

For years, B2B companies have aimed to be more “human.”

But the struggle is real. 

A study from Allison+Partners found that nearly all B2B marketers—97% of their respondents—wanted to humanize their brand, but roughly two-thirds found the process difficult. 

Building warm and approachable B2B brands requires creative thinking and the ability to capitalize on key moments in the human experience. 

Enter: The Olympics. 

This year, we saw more B2B brands advertising at the Olympics—an event usually supported by B2C brands—than we have in the past.

This leads us to the question: who were the most notable B2B spenders at Tokyo 2020?

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B2B brands showed up at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

All too often, B2B brands think about their buyers as ‘personas’ that fit into narrow boxes, only having professional needs and interests. In reality, these ‘personas’ or ‘ideal customer profiles’ are real humans experiencing life in and out of the office. 

This is partially why B2B brands have been trying to take advantage of “moment marketing,” following the lead of B2C brands. Moment marketing is the process of using cultural events or trends to inspire relevant campaigns. The Olympics, just like any major sporting event, is an opportunity for this type of campaign planning.

From medical companies to insurance brokers for small businesses, the events provided a spark to capture buyer attention in a very human way. Companies like Intel, Cisco, GE and Allianz all showed up. 

Their sponsorships at the event are part of a bigger trend: many B2B companies are entering the sports landscape.

Sentry Insurance, an 115 year old insurance company, signed its first sports contract with the Professional Golf Association. 

“It’s not just the interest in golf that we are tapping into. It’s the role that golf plays in our audience’s lives that we’re tapping into as well,” says Amanda Schuneman, brand strategy director. “After all, golf is an arena where watchers and players can merge their professional and personal lives. They can discuss business on the course. And they can connect more directly with others who watch and play golf as well.”

If brands can find a creative way to link business to a specific event or out-of-office experience, they’ll likely be able to build a bigger community of customers. We saw numerous B2B brands sponsoring the Olympics doing this by drawing on themes of global connectedness, a new future or other narratives appropriate for the societal transition we’re in.

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As B2B companies invest in the sports space, we can see which companies are more willing to innovate and perhaps try out other spaces that are traditionally considered “consumer media.”

In July, ad spending from B2B Olympic sponsors totaled $5.5mm in the B2B space. This spending comes from 14 sponsors, including: Cisco, Samsung, Google, GE, and Mitsubishi.

In the month of the Olympics, the top spending sponsors were: 

  • Visa
  • Toyota
  • Google

Other notable Olympics sponsors that made up a significant chunk of B2B Olympic sponsorships include: Cisco, GE, Bridgestone, and Dow Chemical. 

Together, these four companies spent $2.36mm in the month of July, accounting for 43% of Olympic B2B Sponsors spending.

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