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Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

United Airlines “Team Behind the Team” Olympics Campaign

Entered in Travel & Tourism


United has been a sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee for 35 years. But we're more than that. We're true partners, supporting Team USA by flying Olympians and Olympic hopefuls around the world to pursue their dreams. Day in, day out, year 'round. We are "the team behind the team" on the athletes' amazing journeys, and with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio approaching, our goal was to let our audience know. We wanted to create content that would generate awareness of our sponsorship and resonate with our customers, employees and Olympic fans at large. By virtue of this, we established that United is not only the support team for Team USA, but also the team behind our everyday customers.

Overall, we felt that our enthusiastic support for Team USA would appeal to consumers and our employees, and ultimately increase brand favorability and preference for United.

Strategy and Execution

Both United and the Olympic Games connect the world. United flies to more than 350 destinations around the globe. And the Olympics connect the world in spirit and in person, bringing athletes and spectators together from almost every country. Nearly 380,000 travelers were projected to visit Brazil during Rio 2016, and historically, the Olympics have a lingering effect on travel to the host destination in the months and years that follow. As a long-standing partner with the United States Olympic Committee and Team USA, United saw the Summer Games in Rio as the perfect opportunity to further promote the airline's role in international travel and tourism. To accomplish this, we developed an Olympics campaign that went beyond a simple athletic sponsorship. The storyline was about United as a support team for the entire journey to, and from, Rio.

To execute on this strategy, our approach featured a mix of organic, paid and influencer content across all of our channels. The content highlighted our Olympians' trip to Rio de Janeiro – from qualification to the return home – as well as destination content about the host city itself.

Approach by Channel




United Hub:


Like Team USA, United's social campaign excelled during Rio 2016.

Overall Metrics


35.9MM reach; +7 Ad Recall; +15 Message Association; +5 Favorability; 64,402,593 total impressions; 16,654,041 video views


7.84MM reach; +5 Ad Recall; +5 Favorability; 5,473,515 total impressions; 24,002 video views

Instagram: 2.9% engagement rate, 2.4% engagement vs. YTD Channel average

YouTube: 49.4MM reach, 812,178 video views


Entrant Company / Organization Name

United Airlines


Entry Credits