This has been a fantastic summer to be a sports fan. On top of all the usual activities, from our national game to the tennis at Wimbledon, we were also treated to a little event known as the Olympic games.

Beyond the entertainment and sheer spectacle, the Olympics always provide an interesting case study and lessons to learn for marketers. They are without doubt one of the pinnacle opportunities for brand marketers, and every four years we see some of the world’s dominant brands compete for market share and the chance to be associated with Olympic glory.

Because they only come around every four years, the Olympics also provide a fascinating marker for the progress of marketing and technology. During the Beijing games in 2008, Twitter was still in the early part of its rise to world domination, and smartphones were still something of a novelty. Pinterest didn’t exist yet, and Apple’s app store had only just been launched.

Fast forward four years, and London 2012 may be remembered by marketers as the “Mobile Olympics”, with a long list of “firsts” on the mobile front.

The official Olympic website offered downloadable mobile apps for the first time. Many of the major broadcasters also featured mobile-specific websites to provide coverage for the games – something they had never done before. In addition to apps and mobile websites, QR Codes also made their first appearance during an Olympic games. As a trial prior to a much larger global roll-out, major sponsor McDonald’s used QR codes on packaging sold at its Olympic venue to deliver nutritional information. One of the most innovative QR campaigns during the games was by Turkish Airlines, who used QR codes featuring country flags as the basis for a contest.

It wasn’t just the advertisers that made this the mobile Olympics. The athletes themselves were in full force on Twitter, with many of them making regular updates from the venues and the Olympic village via their smart phones. Even at the closing ceremonies, mobile devices were in the spotlight as athletes held them up to cameras to display impromptu messages of thanks to their loved ones back home.

All of this provides even more evidence that mobile is here to stay, and marketers need to get on board. The only question is, what will we see at Rio in another four years time?

What Next

If your are looking to get into mobile marketing, Pitney Bowes offers several applications to help you launch some of your own “firsts”. Sign up for a free trial of pbSmart™ Codes to launch own QR code campaign with ease; or sign up for pbSmart™ Mobile, and create your very own mobile website in minutes.

What about you? What lessons do you feel that marketers can take away from London 2012? How is mobile shaping up as part of your plans? Please share your thoughts below!