United by emotion: how the Tokyo Olympics exceeded expectations

16 August, 2021 Share socially

For many the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (delayed by a year due to the pandemic) was something of a tightrope walk, needing to happen one way or another, for both financial and logistical reasons. But as the games drew nearer - and fears of increasing Covid cases in Japan dominated headlines - it was easy to see why many saw a global sporting event as less of a priority.

As a result, many brands that had lined up lucrative sponsorship deals for the event pulled out at the last minute, fearing financial and reputational losses. However, the Olympics has always been more than just a sporting event, it has become a representation of the zeitgeist of its time. Jesse Owens won gold to spite a Nazi regime in 1936, the US led boycotts against the Soviet-Afghan war in 1980 and the first refugee led team in 2016 highlighted the growing numbers of displaced people worldwide. The Games are a cultural event first and foremost and as such brands that choose to support it positively will always represent this message.

With this in mind, there was no real surprise that the Tokyo Games quickly overcame those initial doubts. By exemplifying resilience, as the world's eyes were upon them and delivering an unprecedented and memorable event it is easy to see why Japan topped our Country Brand Index in 2020. Tokyo showcased the true spirit of the Games, amidst the context of a divided and at times fearful world. The Games once again showed that people from all walks of life can achieve feats of greatness that can inspire us all.

For brands and sponsors, such as Toyota, the challenge lay in understanding and effectively communicating these ideals. Brands needed to instil the same notions of togetherness, strength and power in order to achieve success through their own representation at and of the Games. Having worked on the branding for the London 2012 Games, FutureBrand are well versed in what it takes to inspire through the Olympic Games. By approaching the Games with humility and intelligence, the brands that did stick around for Tokyo 2020 and helped us cheer on those competing made it an even more memorable experience.

Sport ultimately has the power to bring us all together; the highs and lows of competition are a universal language, one that is truly able to unite us through emotion, and brands that can capture that very same essence will always thrive, no matter what.