A bevy of Olympic-themed ads has aired since the Games' opening ceremonies last Friday. Seeing as how the games signify the triumphs and struggles of the world's best athletes, they're not just a platform for national pride, but global kudos, as well.
So they're a great opportunity for advertisers to rally viewers by creating emotional branding that makes people feel good, rather than dwell on an unstable economy.
General Motors tops the list of troubled companies attempting to turn misery into Olympic gold. In its main Olympic ad, the car company parades its seemingly endless range of vehicles across the screen, while a strong, powerful female vocalist sings a heartwarming ballad.
The singer is Brandi Carlile, the song is "The Story," and it's become an Internet sensation. It's no wonder: If GM made cars as well as they create ads, maybe the automaker would be in better shape.
As the cars on display roll by (Cadillac CTS, Buick Enclave, Chevy Camaro) so does the company's tagline, "Something Shiny, Blue, and Beautiful" under the GM logo. Mixing business and emotion is a powerful undertaking for a company down in the dumps. The towering voice of a relatively unknown country singer turns GM cars into objects of peculiar depth and beauty.
And the singer? In a journal entry on her website, Carlile says that she's donating a portion of every concert ticket to help offset all the emissions from her fall tour.
Another company who tugs at our Olympic heartstrings with aplomb? None other than Nike.
Even though it's not an official 2008 Olympics sponsor, Nike is still creating some of the best Olympic-themed commercials. "United We Rise" is the official title of this Nike commercial. It features the late-great Marvin Gaye singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the USA Basketball "Dream Team." Some of the sport's biggest current names appear in this ad, which is practically a tribute: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and the rest of the 2008 Olympic "Redeem Team." It's two minutes long, and worth every second:
It doesn't stop there. Nike has created another captivating ad, called "Courage." It's a series of lightning-fast images of athletes, animals, and other visuals from around the globe. The catchy soundtrack from the Killers perfectly matches the ad's frenetic pace.
The song is called "All These Things That I've Done," and it's off the Killers' first studio album, 2004's Hot Fuss.
Nike also packs many superstar athletes into this one-minute commercial. Here are just a few: LeBron James, Vasily Alekseyev, John McEnroe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pau Gasol, Ralph Boston, Lasji Doucourè, Wayne Rooney, Maria Sharapova, Henry Marsh, David Lega, Mary Lou Retton, Zhu Jianhua, Liu Xiang, Carlos Lopes, Daiane dos Santos, Steve Prefontaine, Paula Radcliffe, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Wallace Spearmon Jr., Julie Moss, Omar Salazar, Miho Shinoda, Lance Armstrong, Kenny Bartram, Garrett Reynolds, Hasely Crowford, Carl Lewis, Kobe Bryant, Bernard Lagat, Mary Decker Slaney, Kerry O'Brien, Pete Sampras, Manfred Naumann, Derek Redmond, Arthur Ashe, Roger Federer, Sherone Simpson, Jon Lester, Michael Johnson, Michael Jordan, Romualdo Kubiak, and Oscar Pistorius.
For members of the U.S. softball team, Beijing takes on a deeper meaning, as this is their sport's final Olympic Games. In "We Have Softball," Nike highlights the team's passion and commitment to continuing to play the game, regardless of the circumstances.
The ad will debut in the U.S. today, and it features members of the United States' four-time, gold medal-winning team, along with clips of other softball players in various settings around the country:
The soundtrack to the ad is "The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.," sung by Donna Fargo, a country music singer-songwriter who popularized the track 1972 when it became a major crossover pop hit.
On August 15, Nike will debut "A Dream Deferred," an inspirational, emotionally-charged ad that gives viewers a glimpse into Sanya Richards' life over the past two years. The voice-over is by Danny Glover. After battling a rare ailment that threatened her track career, Richards persevered to return to action stronger than ever. The ad shows Richards getting ready to return to competition in the 400 meter run. See the spot before it airs: