NUGGET: Flying Down to Rio: Email and the Summer Olympics

Article by John Landsman CATEGORIES: Uncategorized TAGS:

For all the usual hoopla and hype surrounding the Rio summer games, we could subtitle this Nugget, “The Dog that Didn’t Bark” in describing email activity around it. Which isn’t to say that related email activity is extremely sparse; rather that it’s muted, especially when compared to what’s often associated with major calendar events (e.g., Mothers Day; Memorial Day). And surprisingly little of it comes from retailers leveraging the summer games to boost traffic.

Of course, there’s messaging of types you’d expect to see. The Rio Olympics organization itself operates an email domain (Rio2016.com — estimated reach: 580K) from which it mails periodic newsletter-type updates to registered opt-ins.

  • Example: Subject Line – “Inside Rio 2016 | News, videos, interviews and more”. Mailed 8/11 to an audience of 150K. Read rate: 28.07%


NBC Sports owns the TV broadcast rights, and mails periodic update newsletters to an audience of 239K.

  • Example: Subject Line – Olympics Morning Recap: Catch up on all the action from Day 5 in Rio”. Mailed 8/11 to an audience of 134K. Read rate: 14.89%


Audiences of outlets like Huffington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and a few local TV stations receive similar update-type content. Associated read rates are in the range of 10-15%.

But the large national multi-channel retail brands (e.g., Walmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Target) have been all but silent on the subject. Below are ten examples of related emails from retail and other brands, what they’ve been about, and how they’ve performed. Amazon owns the very strong top performer here, with a campaign to Prime members promoting the music of Rio. Two other emails push viewer streaming of the games. P&G shares athlete backstories, consistent with its broadcast campaign: “A closer look at the athletes in Rio, and the Moms who helped them get there.” Related subject line references In the retail campaigns are clearly intended to capitalize on a major top-of-mind international event. Most of those are deployed to relatively small audiences, and produce above-average to very strong engagement.