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The Influencers

What the 2018 Winter Olympics Can Teach You About Winning

INFLUENCER: Havas Street's Adrienne Cadena shares four ways marketers can apply the Olympian mentality to their work

What the 2018 Winter Olympics Can Teach You About Winning

With the Winter Olympics having just wrapped up, it got me thinking about the athletes who spend four years or more training for their one moment of glory and chance at medalling. It’s inspiring to think about the sacrifices, dedication and hard work they put into preparing for this international event. As marketers, we can learn so much from the athletes who competed in the Winter Olympics, but here are four key ways we can apply the Olympian’s mentality to our work for the greatest possible outcome: 


1. Preparation – Anyone who has succeeded at the Olympics or in the workplace will tell you that preparation was paramount to winning. Some athletes say they train for 32 hours per week, sleep 10 hours per night and eat only the most nutritious foods. While starting your workouts at 5am isn’t glamorous, the preparation is what they attribute to helping them win when it counts. Similarly, winning in the experiential marketing industry is all about preparation at every level. For our client La Victoria salsa, preparation paid off when we planned four consecutive large-scale events that were localised to each market. Managing the guest list and attendance meant we had to invite past capacity and have a plan in place in case more or less than our goal arrived on-site. This included careful decisions regarding catering and health permit consideration, event promotion, and venue selection. Ultimately, the team’s preparation for every scenario paid off and we were winners in the clients’ eyes.    

2. Mental Toughness – Seventeen-year-old Chloe Kim showed the ultimate display of mental toughness when she tweeted between runs during the half pipe competition that she wished she had finished her breakfast sandwich and was getting hangry. Apparently, that didn’t slow her down one bit because hours later she won the gold medal for her snowboarding performance. Just like Chloe, event marketers must keep on keeping on when times get tough. Clients can be challenging, ideas are often rejected and budgets are sometimes cut. It’s in these times when we have to be most resilient – staying positive, motivated and passionate about what we can accomplish with the tools we have. Sometimes that’s when the most creative campaigns are born.    

3. Focus – Mirai Nagasu was the first US woman to land a triple axel at the Olympic games. Her focus, determination and confidence helped to catapult Team USA to a bronze medal in the team figure skating competition. While we aren’t landing triple axels in our industry, we still need to stay focused on our clients’ goals and objectives in order to achieve maximum results. Sometimes a sponsorship opportunity or co-branding partnership may come to our attention, but we constantly have to ask ourselves if this is the right opportunity for our client. Staying focused helps our activations align with the overarching brand strategy. For example, we created the first-ever guacamole lounge for our client Wholly Guacamole and brought to life what it means to 'Live Wholly' through lifestyle activities on-site. Every happening aligned with five pillars that were essential to the brand’s DNA. We vetted every engagement and localised the experience to each market in a way that enhanced what we were trying to communicate to consumers.  

4. Adapt to the Elements – Athletes can spend countless hours planning, training and fine-tuning their performances in preparation for their time on the Olympic stage, but there is one thing they cannot control – the weather. Those competing in Pyeongchang can attest to these games being one of the coldest on record with high winds delaying competition. Just like experiential marketing, you can plan for every 'what if' scenario, but weather can wreak havoc on how you perform no matter how many contingency plans you put into place. The best strategy is to be prepared to adapt to any situation. Dealing with the weather is just one of those obstacles that you need to plan for and acclimate to as best you can. Sudden cold front on the horizon? Pre-order heavy branded jackets for your field teams and have heaters on stand-by. Think wind could be an issue at Coachella? Swap regular tents for dome tents to keep the activity enclosed.  

So, the next time you take on a new client or project, think of the gold medal winners from Pyeongchang and take a page from their playbook – start preparing, stay mentally tough, focus and adapt to the elements – and you, too, just might be high-fiving teammates and doing a victory wave of your own.



Adrienne Cadena is senior vice president of Havas Formula’s brand activation division, Havas Street

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Genre: Strategy/Insight