Rio 2016 Games: an Olympic challenge
On October 2, 2009, in Denmark, the International Olympic Committee elected the city of Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was one of the biggest challenges for a South American city: to host, for the first time, the mega-event that every four years brings together thousands of athletes from more than 200 countries and is accompanied by half the population of the planet. It would be up to Rio de Janeiro to adapt itself to host and welcome, with excellence, 15,700 athletes and paralympic athletes, 25,000 journalists, more than 40 heads of state or their representatives and more than 500,000 foreign tourists. And, most importantly, prepare everything with concrete and definitive improvements for the citizens of Rio de Janeiro – the legacy, which was viewed with skepticism by many.
From the point of view of communication, the moment was unique: these would be the most connected Games in history, with millions of smartphones registering and transmitting to the world all the details of the competitions, but also of the host city, taking the image of Rio de Janeiro to the entire planet. The city, therefore, had to be neatly tidied up, and everyone – athletes, world authorities, tourists and citizens – should have had this positive perception since the preparation of the event.
The pre-Olympics scenario brought a series of adversities. The promotion of Rio de Janeiro as host city of the Rio 2016 Games faced distrust both domestically and abroad, and the reasons were plenty: the supposed delays in the works, the difficulty of decontamination of the Guanabara Bay, the advancement of zika virus cases, the threat of terrorist attacks and the political and economic crises that hit the State of Rio and the country. The residents still felt excluded from the party, either because of the high ticket prices, or because the event seemed to favor only tourists.
Five months before the start of the Games, when FSB Communication started working on the account, the City Hall already had a robust digital ecosystem, but there was still no consolidated digital communication strategy that would transform the idea of the legacy into something palpable and that mobilized Rio locals.
In this complex context, FSB drew up a strategy focused on three pillars: Services, It’s All About the Legacy, and Engage the Connected City. The deployment was: 1) To keep local residents – and also potential tourists – very well informed about all the transformations that the city has been going through, in real time; 2) To make it clear for the population the perception of the legacy for the entire city; 3) Engage and motivate people to participate in the Games and help make this edition of the event the best in history. The main target audience was the citizens of Rio de Janeiro. But other audiences were also targeted in the digital environment: domestic and foreign tourists, journalists and digital influencers.
The success of the Rio Olympics is now widespread. For 47 days, the world converged in Rio to celebrate sports and all its diversity, to know our culture, to taste Brazilian cuisine and to be delighted by the hospitality of Brazilians. A poll conducted by the Ministry of Tourism has shown that 88% of tourists met or exceeded their expectations during their stay in Brazil. Among the Rio de Janeiro residents, mission was also accomplished – a poll by Rede Bandeirantes in partnership with ESPM among Rio residents a month after the Olympics showed that 66% perceived improvements in the city after the Games, and for 61%, the legacy was being maintained and updated mostly or in part.
From March to November 2017, more than 500 materials were produced for the Olympic City website, which received more than 5.4 million views from more than 40 countries. During the Games only, over 1.2 million views were recorded.
On social media, the Olympic City directly reached more than 6.4 million users, only on Facebook, with 554 posts, 6,180 real-time interactions and 1.3 million video views. In the sum of all channels, more than 15 million people were reached/engaged. On Twitter, more than 996,000 people were impacted directly. The videos generated more than 1.7 million views and more than 8 million people were reached online, with videos being used by different TV networks such as Rede Globo, and even by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which distributed the images for everyone. The result of the collaborative action #EuNosJogos received more than 400 photos, bringing Rio residents to the party. Between August 5 and September 18, the hashtag #CidadeOlimpica reached 14,932 posts.
As seen, surveys, reach numbers and general perception all converge to the conclusion that Brazilian people and locals were engaged, embraced the Games, crowded the Olympic Boulevard in Pier Maua, and made Brazil beautiful inside and outside the digital environment. These are results that, like those of our athletes, fill us all with pride for the work done in the digital environment at the top of the podium.