Grand Prix winner: Essence for The International Olympics Committee

With no audience to watch the games, Essence were tasked with saving the marketing of the Olympics. The agency fused creativity and data for the most digitally enhanced Olympics ever.

The Olympics Games is the world’s biggest sporting event. Tokyo’s 2020 Games were postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They took place a year later in 2021, still affected by COVID restrictions, with the Games played out without any fans. 

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) turned to Essence to help bring people together, irrespective of their physical distance, and drive unity through connection with the Olympic Games.

Essence created a tool entirely from scratch. The 'Custom Medal Engine’ was a first-of-its-kind bespoke tool for the automatic generation and publishing of localised Facebook and Instagram ads that display event results as soon as a medal is won in the audience's country. Essence worked closely with the IOC for advanced integrations with IOC’s data systems and Facebook and Instagram APIs.

The tool featured Olympic data such as medal name, country, flag, discipline, event and athletes, across 29 disciplines and localised for eight countries. This powered just under 8,000 unique variations and automatically generated posts.

The real scale of the campaign came during the Games, across a three-week period of real-time media planning, adapting to the campaign performance and markets’ performance across different campaign tactics, driving performance and reach.

The IOC said the Custom Medal Engine was a crucial part of its Tokyo 2020 marketing campaign, enabling the brand to fuse creativity and data to ensure it had the most relevant message at all times. Judges said the campaign delivered an innovative solution against a tough brief.