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How The Olympics Brands Countries

Michael SpencerGuest Post by Michael Spencer. Michael is content marketer that works as a freelance copywriter, B2B marketer, blogger and ghostwriter. You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn or Twitter.

We learned something about the human spirit recently with the Olympics. It was bromance on the track, #Lochte more rightly #LochteGate, and a ton of really emotional stories that went viral.

Bromance Personified 

The pair beamed at each other as they came first and second in the 200m semi-final, sparking talk of an epic Olympic bromance in Rio.

Including a slew of creative romantic marriage proposals. My favorite being when Olympic rugby sevens venue worker Marjorie Enya asked Brazil player Isadora Cerullo to marry her.

What we Learned 

The Olympics is not about the medals, but about the condition of human unity in the world. In the age of digital media, this has never been more pronounced with some of the stories that we’ll remember from the Rio games.

The refugee olympic team highlighted this best of all perhaps, reminding us that sports mirrors, echoes and reinforces our perception of global current events and our shared humanity, where goodwill and collaboration are the foundations of building a better future together for the world.

These emotional stories represent some of the subliminal national public relations (PR) events that linger in our psyche in how we view the stereotypes of different countries.

Each country’s national brand is a pervasive layer of stereotypes that informs us, however albeit subconsciously. Each country’s reputation influences relationships in our bustling cosmopolitan cities. We live in more inclusive and diverse cities than ever before.

All Is Not Golden 

The Ryan Lochte debacle reminds us of how many countries view the U.S: privileged, spoiled and inconsiderate to other countries. This is unfortunate, but can these isolated incidents portray and reinforce broader stereotypes of national psyches?

While some personalities like swimmer Fu Yuanhui, epitomizes how China’s Millennials represent a different character on the world stage.

An Age to Cheer the Underdogs 

The more authentic and genuine moments of the games truly did overshadow the glorification of sports idols such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

Brazil for all its struggles to host a games of this magnitude, felt raw, challenged and authentic, and made you want to cheer them on as they mature economically, politically and otherwise.

That a developing Country like Brazil had the privilege to host the Olympics, speaks volumes for globalization and inspite of a lower budget, they managed to pull it off.

The time when we view sports as hero-worship is long since past and gone, where broader humanitarian issues such as the environment, economic equity and the support of minorities are larger issues that have risen to the surface.

Millennials care about Ethics 

We don’t actually care if Phelps or Bolt will attain Pele or Ali like status. However,Ryan Lochte lying to the public about Brazil, could be the last story that we remember that could impact the reputation of the American brand internationally in a lingering way.

How he framed it as “exaggerating” instead of admitting to lying, is the kind of PR countries do in hopeless attempts to repair their disgraced image. It’s little consolation to the power house swimming nation that he lost his endorsements.

Economic & Environmental Uncertainty 

The very image of Millennial narcissism is an American-made myth. Millennials all over the world face some of the worst economic adversity and conditions in recent memory. Millennials care more about the environment, global equality and human rights than any other generation. These athletes promoted different messages at this year’s Olympics:

Olympics represents the Human Spirit

The medal count may be about national competition and multi-million dollar sponsors, but those human stories stand out as most salient in the information age where each action of our country’s representatives powerfully influence our image on the international stage.

When an Egyptian Jukoka refuses to shake hands with his Israeli rival, these negative stereotypes linger in our psyche and can impact our frames of reference of national sterotypes.

When a New Zealand athlete stopped to help a fallen American compatriot, that was themost touched I’ll ever be from watching the Olympics. The Olympics taught us once again the emotional impact of branding and storytelling with more digital reactions to real-time events than ever before.

What Olympic moment or story most touched you? How do these stories influence how you see national stereotypes?