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After a year’s delay, the Tokyo Olympics are finally here, marking a time to celebrate the world’s best athletes. Yet in our current pandemic reality, emotions are mixed. According to Horizon Media’s July New Normal Newsletter, one-third of US adults still feel a sense of anxiety.* On the flip side, optimism is growing. In July, 59% of US adults reported feeling optimistic – an 11% increase from May.* In fact, 84% of US adults wholeheartedly believe a positive outlook on life is the key to achieving positive outcomes.** Despite lingering collective concerns, people find inspiration and hope by flexing their Positivity Power, rallying around achievement of a greater good for themselves and for the community. The Tokyo games are shaping up to be the perfect embodiment of this trend toward perseverance and positivity. Athletes are rising above to inspire the global community via historic firsts, undying dedication, and collective wins that bring a sense of hope during uncertain times.
With COVID-19’s prevalence in 2020, athletes around the world were challenged to remain optimistic despite pandemic-induced difficulties. For American fencer Lee Kiefer, becoming the first American to win gold in the individual foil required overcoming major hurdles. After placing fifth in London and tenth in Rio, Kiefer lost hope and shifted her focus to medical school. But her time away from competing provided a resurgence in confidence. In the face of COVID-19 restrictions and forced isolation, Lee persisted by training solely with her husband and fellow Olympian Gerek Meinhardt, all while studying to become a doctor. Enduring her trials and tribulations, Kiefer proved to herself and the world that with a positive mindset, the ultimate success is possible even while spread thin.
For people and nations alike, recurrent failure can be discouraging, but maintaining hope is paramount. In the Philippines, hope endured despite 97 years of Olympic participation without winning gold. This year, hope became triumph. Within the first three days of competition, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz broke the drought and became the first Filipina to be awarded a gold medal for her country. Despite being quarantined in Malaysia throughout the pandemic, Diaz persevered by creatively using water jugs tied to a bamboo stick for her training. Her dedication and positivity led to an Olympic record in the 55-kilogram category of women’s weightlifting across two lifts, with her combined weight total of 224 kilograms. Having won the Philippines’ first women’s silver in Rio, her perseverance proves that it is never too late to reach for the top of the podium and become an inspiration for a nation and the world. The Philippines responded with an outpouring of love and positivity. Restaurant chains like Burger Garage, Cha Tuk Chak, and House of Lasagna awarded Hidilyn free food for life. She was even granted a condominium free of charge from Megaworld.
People look forward to the Olympics’ global display of sportsmanship to spark feelings of togetherness and camaraderie. This year’s competition has not disappointed. During the men’s high jump event, two athletes tied for gold opted to share their champion status, foregoing an elimination round for a single winner. Despite being competitors for over ten years, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim showed that winning together can be a more meaningful accomplishment. “For me, coming here, I know for a fact that for the performance I did, I deserve that gold,” Barshim said. “He did the same thing, so I know he deserved that gold.” Their joint celebration cascaded inspiration abroad, providing hope for a brighter future. Sentiment across Twitter emulated the warm-hearted feelings with one user noting, “THIS is how we should ALL live….grace, equality, humanity!!!!!! Bravo to these 2 men!!! You stole my heart and give me hope.”
People expect brands to inspire positivity and togetherness, too. A QSR brand can fuel positivity and uplift communities with a UGC sweepstakes that elicits “new firsts optimism.” Encourage people to create collaborative TikTok stitches demonstrating a “first time I succeeded…” moment, submitted under the hashtag #FirstsTogether. Award the top three performing stitches gold, silver, and bronze “medals” based on their total views, shares, and comments. Grant the collaborative champions tiered prizes: gold medalists win a year of free meals, silver medalists get six months, and bronze receive one month. Spread the word of the sweepstakes across owned social to generate awareness. Then, transform the top stitches into ads for your brand to propel positivity forward.
Source: *Horizon Media, Finger on the Pulse New Normal Tracking, Survey fielded 6/29/2021-7/6/2021 N=879; **Horizon Media, Finger on the Pulse. Survey fielded 4/27/21-5/4/21, n=857