TV Ad Trends and Top Spots from Tokyo 2020

In typical pandemic fashion, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were anything but ordinary — from its postponement to crowdless events to Olympians taking a stand. For athletes, audiences and advertisers alike, it still offered some semblance of normalcy after a year of disruption.

Unlike most other TV tentpoles, the Olympics only come around every 2 years. It is also one of the few events that generate worldwide interest and attention, making it a highly sought-after TV program for global and non-global advertisers.

The longer-than-usual road to Tokyo 2020 was plagued with uncertainty. But that did not stop advertisers from lining up for the TV programming and bringing their best creative work. While the world looks a lot different than it did during Pyeongchang 2018, brands still leaned into traditional Olympics creative trends, like empowering messaging and inspirational storytelling.

Our latest report examines notable linear TV advertising trends and insights from the Tokyo 2020 Games along with an analysis of the top 5 ads based on creative effectiveness. 

Report highlights include:

  • The Automotive industry garnered the largest share of impressions (excluding TV network promos)
  • Toyota alone served 1.4 billion of the 34+ billion total linear TV ad impressions during the televised games (46% of Olympics Automotive impressions)
  • Of the Olympics-minded ad creatives, 58% were seen as Empowering among US viewers vs. 57% in Pyeongchang 2018 and 69% in Rio 2016
  • TV creative from Toyota, Procter & Gamble, & Reese’s win top 3 Breakthrough spots — both Toyota and Procter & Gamble went the Empowering route