Internationalism and national pride to prevail in tandem at the Olympics

January 31, 2014
4 min read


For two weeks every four years, my wardrobe centers around American flags, my schedule centers around sports and my expertise suddenly and inexplicably centers around figure skating and alpine skiing. As the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics approach, this year is no different, and I suspect that my captivation with the Games is also no different from the enthrallment experienced by millions of other people around the globe.

As the world turns to Sochi and as globalization occurs more rapidly and permeates our culture more deeply than ever before, consumers have a more intense focus on internationalism and are feeling pride in becoming citizens of the world (see Mintel’s thought piece on 2014 Consumer Trends). People are weaving global connections that are “heightened by the immediacy provided by technology; each day, people are using social media and other innovations to eliminate the barriers and the boundaries formerly presented by geography.” As it relates to the Olympics, people are taking interest in the accomplishments of athletes who come from different cultures and have interesting stories, even if those athletes represent a country far away. This year we’ll see increased consumer interest in not just people from around the world, but in international cuisines, goods, and cultural nuances as well.

At the same time, there will be a sense of pride in one’s country that swells in tandem with those feelings of internationalism. The growing feeling of global camaraderie should not discourage marketers from tapping into consumers’ feelings of pride toward one’s own country and locality that often are often amplified by major international sporting events.

Being a patriot often translates to purchasing local goods for practical and economic reasons, and many Americans are certainly taking such action: Mintel’s research shows that 57% of consumers buy local as it supports American-made goods and services.

But in addition to practicality and economics, many recent marketing campaigns and commercial approaches are centered in large part around people simply feeling proud of their own space and place in the world.

We’ve seen this sentiment reflected everywhere, as companies across the map leverage feelings of local pride in interesting and innovative ways:

Australia: A McDonald’s campaign celebrates a stain from the country’s popular beetroot burger as a badge of national pride. The campaign features people of various demographic and socio-economic groups indifferently dripping beetroot on to their clothes with the tagline: “Eat it with passion, wear it with pride.”
Canada: An ad campaign for Molson involves a Beer Fridge that can only be opened by Canadian citizens. Molson placed bright red refrigerators full of beer in cities, on piers, and even along remote roadsides across Europe over 10 days. They are only accessible by scanning a Canadian passport, though. Once opened—by a Canadian—the fridge revealed a stockpile of Molson Canadian beer, which could be enjoyed by all.
South Korea: Two start-ups are exporting local pride with curated boxes full of local items that share local culture with foreigners. Cubox shares with the world the trendiest Korean fashion, beauty and lifestyle products. A Box From aims to “tell the stories about the cities you haven’t heard yet”; one package, for example, comes from Seoul and includes items such as instant noodles, snacks, tea, beauty face masks and stationery items. Each box proudly displays a description of the role each item plays in Korean culture.
Brazil: O Boticario sought the help of consumers in creating fragrances inspired by the city of Rio de Janeiro. People on the street proudly helped choose the scent of the city.
Russia: A campaign from the airline S7 encourages consumers to feel how “cool” Russia is. The ad is printed with thermochromatic ink and appears to be a blank page until the paper is chilled. By placing the ad in the freezer, the consumer can see an illustration featuring frozen landscapes, grizzly bears, vodka and scantily clad women, encouraging tourism and spelling out the slogan “Russia: Where cold is cool. Welcome!”

As internationalism and national pride prevail in tandem, think about how your brand can innovatively harness the power from a general feeling of pride.

To read more on how internationalism will continue to be on the consumer agenda in 2014, download your free copy of Mintel’s 2014 Consumer Trends thought piece here.


Stacy Glasgow
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