8 Olympic Marketing Ideas for Restaurants to Try this Summer

By Katherine Pendrill

Olympic rings in front of the Hôtel de Ville

Picture this: your restaurant is packed with people cheering on their favorite athletes and enjoying your delicious food. There’s a spirit of friendly competition in the air that’s synonymous with the Olympics. And thanks to your Olympic marketing efforts, you’ve brought in a crowd every night this week. 

That’s right – we’re talking about the upcoming Summer Olympics. A massive sporting event involving athletes from around the globe, more than two billion people worldwide tuned into the Winter Olympics held in Beijing, China in 2022. In the U.S., 59% of adults plan to watch the Summer Olympics this year. 

You can bring the hype straight to your door with the right Olympics marketing strategy. In this guide to Olympics marketing, you’ll learn:

  • When and where the Summer Olympics will take place
  • Why celebrating the Olympics at your restaurant is a smart move
  • 8 Olympic marketing ideas for restaurants

Let’s go for gold!

When is the Next Olympics?

An Olympic Games happens every two years, alternating between the Summer and Winter Olympics. This means the Summer and Winter Olympics happen every four years, respectively – and there’s a bit of ancient Greek trivia behind the reason why. “The four-year interval between the Ancient Games editions was named an “Olympiad”, and was used for dating purposes at the time: time was counted in Olympiads rather than years,” according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

When is the Next Summer Olympics?

Back to modern times! The Summer Olympics will take place in Paris, France, from July 11 to August 26, 2024. Viewers can expect to see an exciting new addition to the roster of competitive sports: breakdancing. Skateboarding and sport climbing, two sports that debuted at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, will also be back for a second round.

Next up, the Summer Olympics will head to Los Angeles, California in July 2028. This will be the third time the city has hosted the games.

When is the Next Winter Olympics?

As for the Winter Olympics, the next games will take place in two Italian cities in February 2026: Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. This Winter Olympics will be special because it’s expected to have more women’s events than ever before. “We are moving from 40% female participation at Sochi 2014 to 47% in Milano Cortina 2026,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

This move speaks to the fact that the Olympics appeal to a diverse audience with varied interests – just one reason why it’s a wise idea for your restaurant to get on board with Summer Olympics marketing. Let’s dive into a few other reasons.

Group of people cheering while watching a soccer game on television.

Why Celebrate the Olympics at Your Restaurant?

Just like other popular sporting events such as the Super Bowl or World Cup, people love to celebrate the Olympics with friends and family at restaurants and bars. After all, soaking up the festive atmosphere is that much better when you can chow down on some tasty grub you didn’t have to cook!

It only makes sense for restaurateurs to take advantage of this opportunity. Hosting bar events like Olympic viewing parties can increase business for your venue. It can also give your takeout and delivery service an extra boost.

With all of the different sports on offer, there’s something for everyone. Whether your guests are into swimming, soccer, or gymnastics, they’ll find an event or an athlete to cheer for. 

In addition, restaurants in the U.S. and Canada may find that the time zone difference between North American locales and Paris can help drive more traffic during typically slow times of the day or days of the week.

Group of friends at a bar watching a game and cheering.

8 Olympic Marketing Ideas for Restaurants 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dig into your Olympics marketing strategy. Running Olympic promotions is a great way to get some excitement cooking in advance of the games – all you need are the right ideas. Here are a few to get your creativity flowing.

1. Host Viewing Parties

If your venue has a TV (or space for you to bring in a TV or projector), host viewing parties for popular sports and promote these events in your Olympic marketing. This idea is similar to what you might do for your Super Bowl restaurant promotions, and it’s a crowd pleaser!

You may have to host the viewing parties at unusual times due to time zone differences, but this could be a helpful way to attract more customers during typically slow periods. For instance, Paris is six hours ahead of New York City, so you might be able to draw a crowd much earlier in the day than you normally would, when key events are taking place.

Here’s an example: during the Summer Olympics in 2021, casual dining chain BJ’s hosted ‘Come Watch With Us’ events and offered different deals Monday through Thursday during the two weeks the games were happening. The promotions included sweet deals like 50% off pizzas and $5 Margaritas.

2. Cheer on Hometown Athletes

Olympics marketing doesn’t have to be all about your restaurant. In fact, celebrating your community is the perfect way to get into the spirit of the games. 

If a local athlete from your city, state, or province is competing, throw a party on the day of their event to bring people into your restaurant to cheer them on. You might even choose to create a special dish in their honor to feature on your menu during the games.

3. Donate to a Local Sports Organization for Kids

Help prepare the next generation of Olympians. Donate a portion of the proceeds from your restaurant sales during both weeks of the games to a local sports organization for kids. 

Be sure to let guests know in advance that you’ll be doing this, so they can come out to show their support. You could even throw a party in the organization’s honor and offer all the staff a free appetizer and drink.

4. Give Out Podium Prizes

As part of your Olympic promotions, allow your loyalty program members to earn extra points or rewards every time your country wins a medal. For instance, you could give them three points for gold, two points for silver, and one point for bronze.

Ike’s Love & Sandwiches did this for the 2021 Olympics and offered a $3 credit per week if an American athlete won a gold medal at the games.

Cocktail with the Olympic rings design.
The Best Drink Ever Website

5. Mix Up an Olympic-Themed Cocktail

Don’t forget to include some Olympic drink specials in your promotions for the games! You can draw inspiration from iconic symbols like the Olympic flame. This fiery-hued cocktail could feature a blend of premium aged rum, tropical fruit juices, and a splash of grenadine. Garnish it with flamed orange peel, and voila

Or, mix up an Olympic Rings cocktail like mixologist Rael Petit did for Lot45 in Brooklyn, New York (pictured above). It featured Avua Cachaça Amburana, Singani 63, lemon juice, banana syrup, egg white and the Olympic rings created using homemade edible colors, juices, and coconut oil.

Hooters Facebook ad for promoting the Tokyo Olympics.
Hooters (Waco, TX) Facebook Page

6. Create Olympic Takeout or Catering Bundles

Your Olympic marketing should not only appeal to in-house diners, but also to customers who might prefer to stay home while they watch the games. Creating bundles for takeout or catering is a great way to help those viewing at home enhance their celebrations.

Here are a few ideas of what to offer:

  • Gold Medal Wings: Put your own twist on this fan favorite that Hooters served up for the 2021 Olympics. Dish out a generous serving of crispy chicken wings tossed in your restaurant’s signature sauce.
  • Podium Platter: Sell a sampler platter featuring crowd-pleasing appetizers like loaded potato skins, mozzarella sticks, and onion rings.
  • Champion Pizza: Create a pizza with a French twist in honor of the games’ host city, featuring creamy béchamel sauce, melted Gruyère cheese, tender slices of smoked ham, caramelized onions, and earthy mushrooms.
  • Olympic Torch Sundae: For dessert, offer a decadent ice cream sundae topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel drizzle, and a cherry on top.

7. Put a French Twist on Your Menu

Host ‘Paris Night’ in honor of Paris, the host city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Decorate your restaurant in the colors of the French flag: blue, white, and red. Switch up your menu for the occasion and put a French twist on your typical offerings. 

You don’t have to turn your venue into a fine dining establishment to make this work. For instance, you could serve comfort food and hearty classics like French onion soup, Croque Monsieur sandwiches, and Beef Bourguignon.

8. Run an Olympic Trivia Contest

Trying different restaurant contest ideas is a fun and effective way to get the word out about your venue. Draw customers in with an Olympic trivia contest with a $100 gift card as the prize.

Prepare a set of challenging yet fun trivia questions related to the Olympic Games. Cover a range of topics like history, athletes, sports, host cities, and memorable moments. Don’t forget to promote the contest ahead of time on social media in your restaurant Instagram captions.

You now have 8 marketing ideas for promotions, food, and Olympic drink specials to try for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Let the games begin!

Photo of Katherine Pendrill
by Katherine Pendrill

Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.

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