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Crafting a Winning Story: Dealership Lessons from Olympic Opening Ceremonies

Hand holding an Olympic torch
Article Highlights:

  • What kind of story is your dealership sharing with the world?
  • Lessons on creating impactful messages from Olympic opening ceremonies.

With the 2024 Summer Olympics set to start in a few short weeks, there’s a lot of conversation about who’s the best athlete and which sports are a must-watch. That said, one of the most interesting parts of the games is the opening ceremony. These ceremonies are much more than lighting a torch to begin the competition – they’re a chance for the hosting country to tell their story to a captive, worldwide audience.

While most dealerships aren’t getting Olympic-level coverage, it’s still important to think about what kind of story you’re conveying to consumers. You never know who might be watching, and the message you convey is what helps consumers get to know your business. In other words, it helps them decide whether to step foot in your dealership. Let’s go through some of the most memorable Olympic opening ceremonies to see what they can teach us about crafting a deeply impactful story:


The Resilient

At the 1964 Olympic opening ceremony in Tokyo, a young man by the name of Yoshinori Sakai acted as the final torchbearer. Yoshinori was born in Hiroshima on the same day the city was struck by an atomic bomb. By lighting the cauldron, he showed the world that the conflicts of World War II hadn’t broken Japan’s spirits.

When it comes to telling your dealership’s story, it’s okay to acknowledge hardships or struggles that you (or your community) have faced. Operations over the past few years have been riddled with challenges, from the pandemic and inventory shortages to regulatory changes and direct-to-consumer models. Showing this kind of resilience to your customers is a good way to indicate you can be counted on for years to come.


The Innovators

Italy’s message to the world at the 2006 opening ceremony in Torino was a reminder of the country’s status as a leader in art and design. They showcased their artistic influence over the centuries with costumes created by Giorgio Armani, nods to famous Italian artists like Dante and Botticelli, and even an automotive display with a Ferrari F2005. Italy has been able to retain its leader status in part because they’ve worked to perfect different art techniques and styles. For example, Boteccilli worked to make his paintings even more vibrant than his predecessors by including additives like egg yolk, alabaster, and gold leaf in his paints.

Similarly, you may find that your dealership is constantly on the lookout for areas where processes could be improved. Small improvements can have a significant impact, and showing your ability to make these changes is a great way to attract like-minded consumers like early adopters always looking for the best and newest.


The Understanding

What’s most impressive about Rio de Janeiro’s opening ceremony in 2016 was the organizers were able to create their vision with a fraction of the budget. Organizers spent about 6.5 million dollars on the ceremony (12x less than London’s ceremony in 2012 and 20x less than Beijing’s in 2008). Organizers for Brazil opted for a budget-friendly opening ceremony to reserve funds during a time when many Brazilians were struggling financially. In other words, they based their messaging and execution around the needs of their people.

For your dealership, it’s important to consider your surrounding community when coming up with your message — these are the people most likely to buy or complete services from you after all! As an example, if you live in an area where most of your buyers are budget-conscious families, it doesn’t make sense to feature young singles in luxury models. Ensuring that your dealership’s messaging is in alignment with your audience’s needs can make it that much easier for them to consider you the next time they find themselves in the market.


The Rule Breakers

While Paris’s 2024 opening ceremony is yet to begin, the city is hinting at some groundbreaking changes. Paris plans to rearrange the typical order of events for their opening ceremony, which will begin with the parade of athletes. They’re also planning to say goodbye to the stadium, opting to have the opening ceremony take place in the heart of the city on the Seine.

Paris’s plans to adjust the opening ceremony should be a reminder to dealerships that you don’t have to be afraid of doing something a little different, especially if the change benefits your consumers. Bringing fans to the heart of the city will be a great way to immerse them in everything it has to offer, while starting with the parade of athletes shows the games should be focused on the athletes participating in them.

For dealerships that go beyond the conventional, whether that’s through fully online purchases, mobile service, or something else entirely, conveying you’re not afraid to break the rules can help you stand out to customers who feel the traditional methods aren’t necessarily best, or haven’t worked for them before.


Consumer thoughts about your dealership are often formed before they even step foot in your door, meaning the first impression you give them is everything. Whether you want to be remembered as resilient, innovative, understanding, or rule-breaking, remember that the best message is the one that feels authentic to you and your brand.

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Mollie is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Reynolds and Reynolds. Since joining the team in 2022, she’s guided initiatives for Reynolds marketing products, produced the Connected podcast, and worked with dealers to collect testimonials and success stories. Mollie received her bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and English from Marietta College. She also obtained an associate’s degree in Marketing from Rhodes State College.

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