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  • Natalie Pence

Paris 2024: The City of Light Illuminated by Olympic Anticipation

Nov. 23, 2023

By: Natalie Pence


The City of Light is about to get a little brighter. For the first time in 100 years, the Olympic torch will be passed to Paris this summer. Following the underwhelming Summer 2020 Olympic games (thank you, Covid) Paris is facing high expectations and anticipation building around the historic two-week-long event. The city’s tourism office predicts that a whopping 16 million people could visit the Paris region for the games this summer. In preparation, the Paris Olympic Organizing Committee and its media partners have developed compelling marketing strategies to draw in as much attention as possible.


I remember first seeing 2024 Olympics ads back in February, a time that seems like light years away now that I’ve been studying at NYU Paris for three months. During an NFL game I was watching, NBCU kicked off its marketing campaign with an ad featuring Paris Hilton. Who better to promote Paris than another Paris?



Beyond the elegant style choices and the clever double-naming concept, this ad was my first exposure to a whirlwind of Paris 2024 strategic marketing that helped sell 6.8 million Olympics tickets by May 2023.


Branding


It’s been apparent from the start that the Paris Olympic Committee has let their French pride shine through their campaigns and branding. For example, the Paris 2024 logo blends together three significant symbols that strive to embody the spirit and history of the event: a gold medal, the Olympic flame, and Marianne. As a symbol of liberty, equality, and fraternity dating back to the French Revolution, Marianne embodies France’s national values and pride. The gold medal and the Olympic flame may be typical for any Olympic logo, but nothing distinctively screams France more than the image of Marianne, although croissants and political revolutions are in the running. Despite the Olympics not taking place for eight more months, I’ve seen this logo all around the city, especially on signs and posters.


The Organizing Committee has also designed an eye-catching mascot for the Games. These animated images of “Phryges” are modeled after red and blue Phrygian caps that have been a symbol of freedom for the French alongside many historical events and revolutions. The committee’s goal through this design is to “drive a revolution through sport” and “inspire France to get moving.”




Paris 2024 emblem and mascot, courtesy of Paris 2024 Official Website


Merchandises


Most of the advertising I’ve seen so far culminates in merchandise. I bet you couldn’t walk more than one block in central Paris without passing a store that sells Paris 2024 merch — even my local grocery store has gotten in on it. Anything from shot glasses to baby clothes, even the most hole-in-the-wall corner stores of Paris seem to have all the Paris 2024 merch you can think of. Besides the typical Paris Olympics t-shirt, I’ve seen an insane amount of stuffed-animal Phryges mascots, but maybe that's because they really catch your eye or maybe because I’m just a tad bit creeped out by them (see image below.) As for the Games’ official stores, the Olympic Organizing Committee opened its first shop on November 14th, 2023 in Forum des Halles, a popular shopping mall located near the Louvre. In total, the committee’s goal is to make 2 billion from all of its retail outlets.


Phrygian Olympic mascot, courtesy of Medium


Partnerships


The organizers aren’t the only ones who will be pulling in large amounts of revenue from the event, of course. As for partnerships, sponsorships, and ad placements slated for this summer, there are lots of opportunities for brands to reach larger audiences and capitalize off of the buzz. Partners of the Games come from a variety of countries and industries, many of which are American brands that are in the process of securing ad spots during television commercial breaks. Ad sales are already pacing ahead of past Games, according to Dan Levinger, NBCU’s President of Olympic and Paralympic Partnerships. As of October 2023, nearly all of the ad slots for the Opening Ceremony were sold out. Recognizing the demand for ad placements during the historic event, Lovinger says, “From pharma to tech to to auto, you name it, everybody wants to be a part of that.” This demand revolves around the high expectations for American viewership, as streaming services created more mediums to watch the Games. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua anticipates that “the Paris Olympics are going to be the most binge-worthy event of 2024,” and therefore the Games are a can’t-miss opportunity for many brands to seek sponsorships or gain ad placement for the commercial breaks.


Target Audience


Although U.S. viewership for the Games are typically highest in those aged 50-64, Gen Z and Millennials are the most targeted viewership groups. As usual, advertisers cater to younger audiences in hopes of generating more buzz on social media surrounding the event. In the past couple years, younger audiences have demonstrated a growing interest in women’s sports which has resulted in increasing investments made by advertisers for the ladies. Airing during the 2016 Olympics, P&G’s ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign depicted supportive mothers helping their daughters navigate through adversity on their journey to becoming Olympic athletes. It was an emotionally impactful ad that has stayed with me for years. This summer, I expect to see more meaningful and creative ads that strive to uplift women’s sports and tell their stories. As a former member of the NYU Women’s Basketball team (go Violets!) I couldn’t be happier about the attention women’s sports has been gaining lately and can’t wait to see this growth reflected in the Paris 2024 Games.


An Olympic hosting building and a Paris Olympic countdown clock, Courtesy of Natalie Pence


During my time studying abroad in Paris, I’ve watched the anticipation for the Olympics build. I’ve seen billboards, ads on transportation, and every form of merchandise you could think of. You name it, they’ve done it. I even think they used the $1.5 billion cleaning process of the Seine River to gain attention, although I’m still not sure I’d swim in it. The marketing for Paris 2024 is impressively all-encompassing and it’s still so early. I recently went on a Seine river-cruise and saw the Olympic countdown clock with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Its countdown reminded me that the Games are still a while away and that I’ll be back in New York by the time they begin. Despite this, my excitement isn’t dulled at all and I’m looking forward to watching the Games with the rest of America in July. My message to anyone who studies at NYU Paris this summer: I envy you—go get your tickets.




 

Natalie is a junior majoring in Media, Culture and Communication and minoring in Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology. In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, painting, skateboarding, and traveling.


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