Design Inspiration

Olympic Email Design: 5 Ways Brands Are Leveraging the Games

Olympic Email Design: 5 Ways Brands Are Leveraging the Games

The world is abuzz with all things Olympics—our inboxes included! Brands are incorporating Olympic email design—from the simple to the ornate—to get in the sporty spirit. Here are five of the methods we have seen marketers use to reference the Rio festivities in their email campaigns.

1. Channeling gold champion products

The Olympics have us all wishing we were gold medal winners. Some brands offered to give readers a piece of the glory by putting their products on the podium. Sephora and Origins both went gold recently with these Olympic-inspired product promotions. (We trimmed the emails for easier viewing).

Sephora’s subject line: Ready, set, GOLD: These picks are winning beauty

sephora olympic email design

Origins’ subject line: FREE trio of Mega-Mushroom skin soothers | A gold medal value!

origins olympic email design

Both companies use a simple approach: Olympic-themed copy coupled with a touch of gold throughout the email design. This Olympic email design only takes a little foresight and planning and is easy to implement. Paired with a winning subject line, and these email campaigns are ready to compete.


2. Adding athletic action with animation

Other brands prepared for the Olympic debut with more detailed email design. Loft, for instance, sent a series of swimming-inspired emails with illustrated GIFs. Like Sephora and Origins, Loft showcased playful text but in their header: If sales were a competition, we’d take home the gold, followed by a swimmingly sweet GIF.

loft olympic email design

loft olympic email design

Leesa, the mattress company, includes animation that invites readers to “sleep like an olympian.” (Subject: $100 Olympic Offer – Sleep like an Olympian)
leesa olympic email design

As for Delivery.com, the food delivery service did something we don’t often see: instead of having a GIF as the hero image, a small GIF was added as part of its logo.

delivery.com olympic email design

Positioned at the very top of the email, the gymnast effectively snagged our attention.

delivery.com olympic email design

From small to large, the animated GIFs accomplish a few things simultaneously: (1) they capture our attention and (2) they make a statement. Brands using themed GIFs in their Olympic email design might be perceived as being current, approachable, and generally lighthearted and fun. And that makes a difference in connecting with an audience.


3. Sustaining event excitement with a drip campaign

Before the Olympics even began, Orchard Supply Hardware sent a five-day promotional drip campaign to drum up excitement for opening day. Called 5 Days of Winning Deals, each day had a theme and a one-day offer. The first email kicked off the event with a boxing-themed message (trimmed here for easier viewing):

orchard supply hardware olympic email design

The USA-themed color scheme and simple boxing glove illustration is a break from Orchard’s usual email aesthetic, so readers will notice right away the changes signify a special event. The second email followed the same structure but with a gymnastics focus instead of boxing.

orchard supply hardware olympic email design

Together, the five messages build up readers’ anticipation for opening day. Orchard is able to play off that anticipation with product promotions. Plus, Orchard’s Olympic email design also follows best practices for drip campaigns:

  1. There’s a central design theme (repeating the same colors, fonts, and/or images).
  2. The same call-to-actions are used throughout the campaign (“Buy now”).
  3. A consistent first module format unifies the messages into a cohesive group.

4. Creating content connection through competition

Many of us are inspired by the Olympians we see on TV. They’re incredibly poised, strong, and talented. When we hear about their lives and see them compete, we feel like a part of their stories. Publishers are playing off that connection with content that lets us feel like we can be Olympians in our own lives.

InsideHook Chicago, for instance, sent an email with the subject line, Wanna train like an Olympian? Readers were offered a promotion for a gym membership at Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.

insidehook chicago olympic email design

How about looking like an Olympian? Well+Good had a story on workout hairstyles:

well+good olympic email design

Eating like an Olympian was a popular topic, too. Time Magazine featured it as a top story in a daily email:

time magazine olympic email design

Tasting Table wrote their own version, using the subject line, How to eat like an Olympic athlete:

tasting table olympic email design

Even Extra Crispy wanted to tell readers about the breakfasts eaten by champions:
extra crispy olympic email design

Meanwhile, PopSugar got silly and wondered how toddlers would fare as Olympians:

popsugar olympic email design

But if you just want to live like an Olympian, The Muse featured a story (and email subject line) about 10 Olympic Athletes’ Daily Habits You Should Steal (That Don’t Involve the Gym):

the muse olympic email design

Marketers and content strategists tie content to relevant news all the time. The Olympics is no exception. With great stories, headlines, and subject lines, brands hope to tap into readers’ admiration of accomplished athletes and increase email clicks with eye-catching Olympic email design. Email designers can boost attention to stories by:

  1. Using the story headline in the subject line (like Tasting Table)
  2. Positioning the story at the top of the email (like Time)
  3. Pairing the story with a great CTA button (like the Muse)
  4. Pairing the story with a high-quality stock photo—or animated GIF)

5. Showing spirit with header illustrations

The e-commerce site Steals.com has a simple and effective approach to Olympic email design: an Olympic header illustration coupled with an Olympic-focused headline. Here’s an example:

steals.com olympic email design

This is an especially flexible design approach because it doesn’t require Steals to create specific content or update the entire email design. The brand can simply apply Olympic imagery with a header at the top, then design the email as usual. Here’s a second example:

steals.com olympic email design

As you can see, a little creativity can go a long way!

Wrap up: Olympic Email Design

Want to connect a current event to your brand’s email design? Try these approaches:

  1. Take one prominent symbol or color (like GOLD!) and infuse it in your email design (and copy).
  2. Use animated GIFs to show readers you’re all-in on the fun and festivities.
  3. Plan a drip campaign to coincide with the event (or build up to it).
  4. Create content connected to the event and feature it prominently in your design.
  5. Build a universal email header that can be used throughout the event.

Have you seen other gold medal-worthy design trends? Let us know!

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Kelly Shetron

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