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What Kanye, Hashtags, #TO2015 Can Teach Us About Marketing

Social media in some ways has become synonymous with live sporting events. People want to be part of the action, rejoice in the triumphs, agonized in the defeats. People are created to connect to one another and sports is a gateway to that connection…living moments of sheer triumph greater than one’s self. The sun has set on the 2015 Pan Am Games but the conversation continues - was this a successful social media sporting event? I would say no.

Hashtag Dilemmas:

#TO2015, #Panamazing, #PanAmGames, #PANAMNIA, #PanAm2015 – which do I chose?

When you go on the official 2015 Pan Am Games website the official hashtag is #TO2015, however looking at their official social media platforms there were several hashtags used throughout the games. So which do you use? It is always best to have one official hashtag, prompt and use that one hashtag the most. If there are several hashtags than there will be many missed engagements and missed engagement metrics to analyze.


The second dilemma to #TO2015 is that it doesn’t say anything about the games or a tagline to rally behind. During the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) created the tagline hashtag #WeAreWinter for Canadians to encourage our athletes. Canadians took to it with 543,000 mentions in Canada and 1.05 million mentions worldwide. On the final day of the Olympics it was “trending” on Twitter. Canadians hike, camp, ski, skate, even cottage in the winter. We are winter.

The Pan Am Games didn’t need a tagline hashtag to communicate their message. Many sporting events use the name or event i.e. #Wimbledon, #nba, #TheFinals, #StanleyCup. These simple hashtags quickly convey the message. What does #TO2015 convey? Anything in Toronto in 2015 – summer vacations, construction, the housing market.  People can use #TO2015 and not be talking about the Pan Am Games. When collected in metric analyses the numbers will be inflated due to an unclear plan.

Kanye West 18 by  rodrigofrerrari  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0

Kanye West 18 by rodrigofrerrari is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Kanye West Games?

The “Louis Vuitton Don” came to the games. When the announcement on July 15th, within ForFiveSeconds Kanye was running the storyline of the Pan Am Games, not the athletes. There were 12.7k tweets about Kanye followed by 4.1k tweets about Andre Degrassi Canada’s gold medal sprinter. It was cleared by the anti-Kanye online petitions to the thousands of anti-Kanye tweets, - Yeezy hijacked Pan Am 2015.

In marketing allow no one to hijack your message and define your brand. Whether it’s fair or not by not maintaining control over the social media circus of Yeezy, the Pan Am message wasn’t communicated for the rest of the event.

  1. Should the announcement been way before the games started? Yes.
  2. Should there have been a PR plan for the backlash for a controversial star like Kanye? Yes.
  3. Should there have been a response on all the official Pan Am social media platforms defending their decision? Yes.

Sport stars and only sports stars should be the talk of an international sporting event. 

By having someone else other than the athletes being the talking point robs the athletes of the social buzz of their achievements. More buzz, more fans, more ticket sales, more attractive to sponsors.

Points Taken: Hashtags are an effective way to create brand awareness when they are unique to the brand and do not get confused by other hashtags.

By maintaining control of your brand’s message from outside influences, you deliver the correct message to your audience and can achieve your marketing goals.

To read about the branding of the 2015 Pan Am Games click here .


To identify and tell the stories of your brand, contact our Chief Experience Designer at or call 416-595-9823. 

GenesisXD, is an award-winning Expereince Design firm, who show clients how to communicate their story through innovative design, branding and communications.