February 26 2018

Nick Griffith: PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games Highlight Reel

Thought Leadership, Olympics, Nick Griffith

Nick Griffith // Senior Vice President

In 1896, the first of the modern-day Olympics took place in Athens, Greece. For me, much of the beauty of the Olympics comes from the pageantry that still elicits the first Games – the spectacular Opening Ceremony, the moment at the podium when an athlete receives their medal, and finally, the reunion of all the nations (which have spent the past 17 days competing against one another) at the Closing Ceremony.

I have worked at ten Olympic Games and collected more than 1,000 pins. At this point, I can officially refer to myself as an Olympic specialist (or fanatic), whichever you prefer. As I set out for PyeongChang, I was especially excited to witness how the Organizing Committee (OCOG) and sponsors have continued to transform the Games through tech innovations, both for fans and athletes. As I look back, I thought it would share some takeaways from the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Technology is Transforming Our View of Athletes // Over the past few years, the trend of focusing on Olympians as more than athletes has been embraced by advertisers and fans. In PyeongChang, we continued to see this evolve. In the Olympic Village, Olympians were celebrated for their individuality through a display of their artistic abilities. Olympians are the epitome of physical prowess; both as individuals and as a collective, but with technology and use of social media, marketers now have a medium through which we can share so much more about these Olmypians with the fans. Technology has given us a vehicle to tell different stories.

Activities at the Games Are Not Only From Sponsors // While Tokyo 2020 has generated a lot of attention about the technology that will be on display during the upcoming Games, it was clear the Korean government and industry wanted to make a statement that tech was a core component of the PyeongChang Games as well. To wit, the OCOG president stated during his Opening Ceremony speech that the three themes of the Games were “ICT Olympics”, “Culture Olympics” and “Peace Olympics.” Their focus was on ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and IoT (Internet of Things). There were a number of displays and games for fans to interact with at the competition venues, and these included a “5G ICT Zone” demonstrating advancements like “interactive time slices”. For me, the most interesting part of these displays was not the technology itself, but the fact that the OCOG invested in bringing these types of technology directly to the fans without any official sponsor ties. While they used official sponsor products & services, the actual display spaces were a way for South Korea to prove their commitment to intertwining technology and the Games.





Mascots are More Than a Plush Toy for Fans // Since 1972, each Organizing Committee has created a mascot that symbolizes an aspect of the host country’s culture and people. In PyeongChang, the official Olympic mascot was Soohorang, an Asiatic white tiger, which is considered Korea’s guardian animal. Soohorang was unique in that the PyeongChang Organizing Committee created animatronic versions of the mascot, with which attendees could interact. Personally, I enjoyed watching people in the crowd interact with the mascot, and I thought it was a great way to hold onto a tradition of the Games, while embracing new technology.

My suitcases were a bit heavier as I traveled back from PyeongChang, having added 26 new pins to my collection. Over the years, I have noticed how the pins I bring home have changed – the graphics are better, and the themes are increasingly diverse. The evolution of my pin collection is consistent with the changes I have witnessed at the Games, whether it be in technological integration, access to athletes, or the Organizing Committees' willingness to interact with fans. While its sad to see another Games close, I can't help to get excited at the same time. We are now one day closer to Tokyo 2020, where our team in Japan is already on the ground planning and implementing exciting programs for our clients.