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Are we winter? Success of Canada's Olympic campaign suggests we are

Canada goalie Carey Price makes a save against Sweden during second period action in the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russsia, on Sunday, February 23, 2014.


Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail's marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter@Susinsky.

The Canadian Olympic Committee went into the Sochi Olympics with something to prove: that Canadians own winter, as part of their identity.

That was the core strategy behind the biggest advertising campaign in the COC's history, which centred on the slogan "We are winter."

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Now, the Committee is starting to see the results of its efforts.

The slogan has been mentioned 543,000 times on Twitter in Canada since it launched; and 1.05 million times worldwide. It was also "trending" on the final day of the Olympics – a word for popular global subjects on Twitter.

The COC also grew its presence on social media:

  • Its Facebook page has 426,000 fans, up 75 per cent compared to last year
  • The Canadian Olympic Team Twitter account now has 314,000 followers, up 600 per cent compared to last year
  • The videos it made and posted on YouTube as part of the campaign - including eight mini-documentaries profiling athletes - collectively drew more than 500,000 views
  • The website drew nearly 3-million visitors, a 5,000 per cent increase over last year

Of course, all these huge increases compared to 2013 don't mean much on their own; in a non-Olympic year it makes sense that not many people would be crowding an Olympic website.

But the increase in social activity is hugely important to the COC. The core goal of the campaign was to get Canadians more involved with the Olympic team, but also for the COC to be a more active participant in marketing the Olympics in Canada. That is important because funding for the COC and for the athletes themselves comes in large part from the dollars that advertisers spend to be associated with the Games. Putting more weight behind an effort to generate buzz around Canadian Olympic athletes makes the movement, and those athletes themselves, more attractive to sponsors.

Compared to London in 2012, where the COC ran a smaller campaign entitled "Give Your Everything," it's easy to see the strides the COC made in marketing itself this time around.

In London:

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  • The COC had 215,000 Facebook followers
  • Its Twitter account had 35,000 followers
  • Videos on YouTube drew 334,000 views
  • The website attracted just 350,000 visits
  • The main commercial the COC made for these Games on its own has attracted more than 113,000 views online; that’s more than double its centrepiece “Give Your Everything” spot from London.

The popularity of the slogan was also important because sponsors made an effort to use it in their own social activity in a way they had not done before. Companies such as Molson Coors Brewing Co., Hudsons Bay Co., and Mondelez Canada included #wearewinter in their brand tweets as a rallying cry, and as a way of signaling their connection to the team.

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