Viewers Prefer Olympic-themed Ads

March 1, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Broadcast & Cable | Media & Entertainment | Men | Sports | Television | Women

Viewers of NBC’s Olympics coverage through February 20, 2010 preferred ads with an Olympics theme, according to data from The Nielsen Company.

Six of the 10 most-liked ads contained an Olympics theme. The ads, aired by Visa, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble, included either a direct mention to the Olympics or imagery alluding to the games.


As it turns out, American TV viewers like their Olympics – even in the commercials they watch.
A Nielsen survey asking Olympics viewers about commercials aired during NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage through February 20 shows that six of the 10 most liked ads contained an Olympics theme. The ads, aired by Visa, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble, included either a direct mention to the Olympics or imagery alluding to the games.

Visa Leads All Olympics Ads
Visa produced the most liked ad in the first week of Olympic primetime coverage. The spot featuring the story of US speedskater Dan Jansen earned a Likeability Index rating of 301, three times more than average commercial aired during NBC Olympic telecasts. Visa placed two more ads on the top 10 list, including a spot featuring US skier Julia Mancuso, which earned a likeability level of 205, twice as much as the average.

Non-Olympics-themed Ads Feature Positive Imagery
The four commercials in the list of top 10 most-liked Olympics ads which did not feature an Olympics theme all still offered what could broadly be called a “positive” message. The number two commercial, an ad for Orville Redenbacher that scored 293 on the Likeability Index, featured a father and brother eating popcorn with a little girl at her tea party. Other non-Olympic-themed ads included a Ford Focus ad with a woman considering a manicure since she goes to the gas station less often, a Visa promotion for the new “We Are the World” download that aids Haiti, and a Diet Coke ad promoting heart health.

Women Favor Olympics
Unlike the male-favored Super Bowl, the TV audience for the Winter Olympics is predominantly female, according to other research from The Nielsen Company. Through February 21, 2010, an estimated 56% of Olympic viewers were female, while 44% were male. Super Bowl viewership earlier this month was almost the exact opposite, with its audience composed of 54% males and 46% females.

This may explain the disparity in the best-liked ads shown during the Olympics and the best-liked ads shown during the Super Bowl. The most popular ad with Super Bowl viewers was a humorous spot from Budweiser featuring a bull falling in love with a horse, according to an online survey by

Other favored Super Bowl ads included commercials featuring comedic actress Betty White playing football, a smart-alecky talking baby with multiple girlfriends, and a young boy warning his mother’s date about keeping his hands off her.

About the Survey: The Likeability Index ranking is based on the percentage of TV viewers who can both recall the advertised brand and report to like “a lot” an ad they had an opportunity to see during the normal course of viewing Olympics programming, on NBC primetime from February 12-20, 2010. These scores are indexed against the mean score for all ads in the Olympics during the time period (Likeability Index). 100 equals average. Only traditional ads considered, with sponsored segments and branded promos/vignettes are excluded. Ranking is based on 13,365 surveys of NBC Olympics viewers.

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