This coming August, we drift once again through those two extraordinary weeks when the hopes and dreams of many earthlings ignite into a global tempest of sporting madness. A time when attuned teammates and fierce opponents vie for even a mere glimpse of glory, hoping to relish in that sweet moment when all their preparation and hard work comes to fruition, and perhaps even be granted household-name status in their field.
Of course, I’m talking about the field of advertising.
More specifically those advertisers of whom have braved the maelstrom of the Olympic marketing arena, armed only with their creative concepts, their snappy media executions, and the fervent hope that they will break through the cluttered mania.
So in honour of these glorious few, and in the spirit of the Olympic pursuit of excellence, I thought I would pay homage to three campaigns that have really stepped up, and subsequently onto this year’s podium of advertising prowess.
Under Armour – #RuleYourself
We dive right into an Olympic sized swimming pool of sportsmanship with Under Armours #RuleYourself campaign, starring the legendary Michael Phelps. The campaign is inspired by the 16th Century Pietro Aretino quote “I am indeed a king, for I know how to rule myself”, which takes on a somewhat different meaning if you know that Aretino, amongst other things, invented literate pornography (but don’t tell Droga5 that). Droga’s #RuleYouself campaign has been craftily carried over from last year and revitalised for the XXXI Olympiad. To be honest this campaign doesn’t break any boundaries, or drive any clever new channel tech, but its raw sentiment seems tailored for my earnestness in setting the Olympic mood.
Take a look: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh9jAD1ofm4).
It seems almost upsetting to see Phelps’ in such gruelling pain, but instead you truly find yourself admiring his strength; the strength of both the will and character required to perform at this level. It ties in with core UAs brand values, aligns with the sponsorship, and it’s gritty and hypnotic. This commercial reminds a lot of us, of whom only tend to think about the Olympics once every four years, just how much dedication is requisite for all competitors. It’s raw and powerful and is deserved of the coveted bronze spot on my ad podium.
Lacoste – #SupportWithStyle
Coming in with sterling silver we have a very Parisian campaign from Lacoste. With the current social media landscape yearning for fresh and punchy video content, Lacoste decided to attack the clutter with not a commercial, but a music video. Check it here:
With unique choreography and very listenable music (from The Shoes) it smartly livens up the newsfeeds of their chic demographic. In contrast to UAs, this campaign celebrates the beauty and elegance of sport, and highlights that with an occasion sporting as many moving parts as the Olympics, almost every brand can leverage a promotional angle that adds prestige and shine to their own tenets. Reminisent of David Jones’ #ShotBySound featuring musican Daniel Johns last year, this campaign showcases the need for Brands to start breaking the moulds in terms of social content strategies (and aligning with established artists, choreographers etc. is definitely a good place to start).
Team Canada #WeAreWinter
My golden campaign of the Olympic advertising season so far comes from big brother across the Pacific with Canada’s #WeAreWinter campaign. I love the sheer Canadian-ness of just re-using the winter Olympics message again for the summer games, layered with the suggestion that winter training gives their national athletes an edge over the competition. This is of course literally absurd (even if it does give our Tasmanian athletes cause for optimism) but the images of Canadian sporting stars athletically conquering the ice shelves and hurtling themselves off titanic icebergs is striking. Though with previous elite doping controversies gyrating the memories of Olympic officials, it does seem brave to be advertising the fact that Canadian athletes have ice in their veins. Check it out here:
So to close ceremonially, it seems worthwhile to reflect on times like this. To pause for at least a few minutes, and appreciate our craft a little. And it’s good sometimes to think on the inspirational potential of advertising. Also worth noting that the Olympics doesn’t start for a couple of months so I’m sure the best work is still yet to come!
P&G Thank You, Mum campaign https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K9pErX7aAE – obligatory tearjerker.