Ambush marketers occupy nine of the top 15 spots in the Global Language Monitor’s (GLM) pre-Rio 2016 Brand Affiliation Index (BAI), raising questions about some of the Olympic Games’ most prized TOP sponsors.
GLM’s BAI tracks the closeness of the relationship between branded entities, in this case Rio 2016 and the Olympic TOP sponsors.
Although TOP sponsor Samsung has increased its already strong lead in the Rio Final Pre-Game Ranking by BAI, the company’s closest challengers in the standings are ambushers Nike and Starbucks with fellow TOP sponsors Coca-Cola, Dow and McDonald's ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
Ambushers Pepsi, Red Bull and DuPont and TOP sponsors Omega and GE follow with IBM Global Services, Philips, Siemens AG and Unilever rounding out the top 15.
P&G/Gillette has fallen some 200 BAI points since the London 2012 Olympics and has ended up in 19th position, its worst showing to date.
The chart also shows Coke, Dow and McDonald's all scoring over 100, while Omega and GE remain strong in the 70s.
There is still a question mark over Bridgestone after tumbling from a very strong debut at 18-months-out by about 150 BAI points.
Samsung has recorded the biggest increases in the Percentage Change chart, which tracks the change of the TOP sponsors’ and non-affiliated marketers’ BAI since London 2012.
The company has risen from a BAI of 5.11 at London 2012 to some 376.17 during the final Rio 2016 pre-Games measurement.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are TOP sponsors Panasonic, Atos Origin and Visa Card, each down over 80 per cent since London 2012, followed by ambusher Subway, down some 99.66 per cent.
Omega is making a major charge up the char, marking a nine-fold improvement in brand awareness since London 2012.
The only other TOP Sponsor to increase in the hundreds of per cent range is Dow, improving nearly 400 per cent since London 2012.
"The Rio Final Pre-Game Ranking by BAI and Percentage Change, raise significant questions about some of the Games' most steadfast TOP sponsors, including P&G/Gillette and Panasonic," said Paul JJ Payack, President and chief word analyst of the GLM.
"On the other hand, Samsung has the look of an oncoming locomotive, with the potential of leaving the other TOP sponsors in the dust."
According to the study, the TOP Olympic sponsors, who spend up to $1 billion (£756 million/€895 million) per Olympic cycle, and their products are making a dramatically smaller impact on the Olympic audience in terms of Internet media buzz than those of the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games.
The study is part of GLM’s ongoing reearch stretching back to the Beijing 2008 Summer Games and forward to the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.
It uses GLM’s BAI to track how often brand names are linked to the Olympics in global print and electronic media and social networks.
GLM also uses the Entity Affiliation Index to track non-branded entities, such as the Zika virus, in the same manner.
A study sent to insidethegames by the GLM in May revealed that Olympic TOP sponsors are among the worst affected by the Zika virus and a "relative decline of the Olympic brand".
It followed the publication of a similar report back in March, when was it revealed Zika, which has links with microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with small heads and under-developed brains, was having a significant impact on the TOP sponsors.
The International Olympic Committee has strict regulations in place to protect its official international partners and prevent ambushing official Olympic partners and sponsors.
Among these is Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter which prohibits athletes working with non-affiliated marketers during the Games.