Marketing Lesson from Sochi Winter Olympics – Strategy With RS

Can you get your customers to do anything against their wishes?

You can provided you make a proposition to them which is in their self-interest. This means that a customer will not change her behaviour because you want them to but only when they perceive it to be in their self interest. By pursuing this strategy we can persuade our customers to even do tasks which they detest.

Take exercising. People detest doing it. But when the town of Sochi in Russia was hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, it wanted every person in the city to not just be ‘passively-involved’ with the Olympic but get ‘actively-immersed’ into the spirit of Winter Olympics. For this they tapped into the insight I have shared with you & came up with a innovative offer!

If any person wished to avail of free subway ride they had to do 30 squats (push-ups) in front of the ticket vending machine. If successfully done, the vending machine would reward the person with a free ticket. To make sure that ‘unscrupulous’ elements did not game the system the camera in the vending machine was kept low. If a person did not do the squat coming really low, the cameras of the vending machine would not ‘notice’ it & hence not reward the ‘cheater’ with free ticket. And 30 squats was arrived at because the price of a subway ticket was Rouble 30.

This was not the only event organised by the committee to get its citizens to become more health conscious. There were other reward based events – stationary bikes which charged your mobile cells for free where placed at strategic location. The person desirous of charging her mobile phone had to to peddle the stationary bike!

Bottom Line: Customers will willingly to task on matter how odious, boring & loathsome provided it is in their self-interest. Therefore when you want customers to buy your brand, always craft your proposition so that it is in their self-interest to ‘choose’ your brand over others!

An then experience the benefits percolate down to your bottom line.




In this series, Rajesh Srivastava, Business Strategist and Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore gives you a regular dose of strategy case studies to help you think and keep you one step ahead as a professional as compared to your peers. Rajesh is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and IIT Kanpur and has over 2 decades of experience in the FMCG industry. All previous Strategy with RS posts can be found here