Olympics inspire great advertising.

Ellyn Davidson 07/27/12 - 2:02 pm

Who doesn’t love the Olympics? The amazing athletic feats, the moving medal ceremonies, the opening hoopla (which happens in London tonight)—I love all of it.

Since I’m in advertising, I also love to see—and study—the ways companies incorporate the Games into their marketing. While only a few corporations can be Olympic sponsors, we can all learn from their five-ring ads.

Here are some of my favorites thus far:

  • Kellogg’s—From Great Starts Come Great Things: This site features moving, beautifully-produced videos about U.S. athletes like archer Jake Kaminski and swimmer Rebecca Soni and Paralympian Casey Tibbs. We get sound bytes from their coaches and family members. We see them train. We learn about their amazing journeys to the games. And we watch them chow on Raisin Bran or Frosted Mini Wheats to get a “great start” on their training days. The transition from inspirational film to product placement is slick, seamless, and—to me, anyway—very relatable. I can’t face the day without my coffee and Special K, and everybody knows the truism about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. The site also has “Start Like a Champion” videos, in which swim star Summer Sanders chats with a dietitian about health and nutrition for everyone, not just for athletes. The campaign seems to be all about making the athletes feel like kids next door, people we can bond with and relate to as we all eat the same all-American corn flakes. It’s very well-done.
  • P&G, A Salute to Olympic Moms: I’ve yet to see this excellent spot on TV, but I’m already familiar with it. That’s because several Facebook friends—with no connection to P&G—have shared it. Now that’s a good commercial. I defy you to hold back the tears as you watch this gorgeous, two-minute film about mothers helping their children wake up in the wee hours, train their hearts out, then make it to the Olympics. There are a few shots of the hard-working moms washing dishes or folding laundry, but there is no product placement until the very end, when a few P&G product logos flash by, along with the tagline: “P&G, Proud Sponsor of Moms.” This is a wonderfully effective spot (a sequel to the mom-centric commercial created for the 2010 winter games) that subtly and savvily targets moms, both the ones who help create Olympic legends, and us ordinary ones who do the daily laundry and dishes. In this commercial, all moms are  heroes. And since women are responsible for 85 percent of all brand purchases, P&G is barking up the right tree.
  • Panasonic’s Flag Tags: Not all the Olympic advertising will make you cry. I love the enthusiasm and silliness of Panasonic’s Flag Tags. This app gives your Facebook profile pic virtual face paint that looks like your country’s flag. I love how this app rallies Olympic enthusiasm and national loyalty, while also subtly tying into Panasonic’s technology-focused brand. Brilliant.

Flag Tags

So what’s the unifying theme here? With great power (i.e. an Olympic sponsorship) comes a great platform. These advertisers know they don’t need to hammer viewers over the heads with their product placement. Subtlety, and celebrating the athletes more than themselves and creating that emotional connection is the key.
Over the next sixteen days, I’ll keep my eye out for more exciting Olympic-based marketing. What about you? Have you seen any Olympian ads that have knocked your sweat socks off?

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