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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Olympics Take Gold in Unexpected Category

February 16, 2010 by David McJivvers · Leave a Comment 

A funny thing happened on the way to the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. It became readily, painfully, thankfully apparent that the commercials at the Olympics would best their Super Bowl counterparts.

Let’s take a look at some of the work from the Super Bowl, starting with a joint commercial for Emerald Nuts and Pop Secret Popcorn:

The spot features an off-putting showman tossing nuts and popcorn to humans who jump like dolphins to catch them in the air. And that’s the problem- the Super Bowl has become one giant dolphin-jumping show, where the spectacle has overtaken the substance, and where advertisers jump through hoops to check the boxes of “sure-fire winners,” chief among them bottom-of-the-basement, juvenile, thoughtless gags that appeal to nothing but the audience’s lowest common denominator. Yes, they work; and yes, I laughed. But then I forgot about them entirely. Doritos, one of the “big winners” of the night, had a spot about a guy who fakes his death and hides in a casket full of Doritos at his own funeral. Think that will sell potato chips?

Marketing departments have become so focused on winning post-game polls that they forgot that their main job is to make people buy more of their products. Instead, they just chase each other down a seemingly never-ending spiral of asininity, using their products as bit players to see who can get the cheapest laugh in 30 seconds. Ironically, GoDaddy may be the exception to this rule. They use bottom-of-the-basement, thoughtless asininity to drive sales on their site. Congratulations.

The Super Bowl is supposed to be… well, the Super Bowl of advertising. So what happened? The media circus and hoopla have grown to such gargantuan proportions that the game itself is now completely overshadowed.

And that’s where the Olympics come in. The Olympics are an enormous spectacle, starting right from the opening ceremony (even Canada spent more than $30 million producing theirs). However, instead of being a distraction, the buildup and surrounding events manage to maintain, even enhance, the focus on the games themselves. The Olympics are a time when the world’s best athletes come together in an atmosphere of fierce competition and genial comity; when people who have dreamed about this moment their entire lives manage the utmost grace even in heart-crushing defeat. Despite the sponsorships and commercialization, there is an abiding respect for the history of the games, and the skill of the athletes.

Consider this spot from Coke:

This spot, simple as it is, captures the spirit of the games, and presents the product in a wonderful light. This from the advertiser whose Super Bowl commercial may have been stolen from an Israeli dairy product.

In an effort to deepen ties with mothers, Procter & Gamble has launched a “Thanks, Mom” initiative and is paying for the mothers of US athletes to come to Vancouver and watch their children compete. P&G is also providing a ‘Family Home’ where families can meet, eat, pick up tickets, and watch events.

Here’s one of their ads supporting these efforts:

It’s simple, but effective, and strikes just the right note for this moment of national pride. In a few words it conveys genuine appreciation, and conveys a tender, patriotic, and somewhat inspiring message.

No one is naive enough to suggest that the Superbowl tactics are wholly ineffective, but here is what people forget: just because we get a chuckle from the lowest-common-denominator, that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a more thoughtful approach.

So marketers, take note: treat us like halfway intelligent people and you’ll earn more than a high ranking on the USA Today AdMeter. Take the opportunity to connect with us and we will remember you for longer, and maybe even become loyal customers. In the meantime, I’ll be with the rest of the people from my small town, making a human bridge for the beer truck to drive over.

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