A Night With the Olympics Advertisers

The Olympics are the marketing event of the moment. I’ve certainly watched my share of the sporting events, but I hadn’t yet sat down and focused just on the ads going on in the show. So last night, I decided to focus on the most interesting part of these games: the commercials!

Olympics commercials in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Olympics Commercial Break 7

At 9 p.m. they cut to the swimming. Mention sponsors AT&T, the upcoming Tom Hanks movie Inferno, Hershey (only true junk food sponsor), and Aveeno skin care.

  1. “Inferno” commercial: The third Dan Brown movie with Tom Hanks. Threatens an extinction level event in multiple ways.
  2. Another take on the DICK’S commercial: Longer, different wording, more details about how all the trace minerals are in us. Still pretty inspiring.
  3. Ford commercial: “Unstoppable,” Olympics tie-in with things like “We are all spinters,” said about a woman running to her car in the rain. Really?

Heading into the swimming, there’s a vignette highlighting the Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos rivalry in butterfly stroke races. Short story: Le Clos and Phelps are rivals in the butterfly. Phelps retired after the London Olympics and Le Clos won the championship. Phelps came back, and said in his absence the Butterfly hasn’t been swum very fast. Shots fired!

Then more commercials.

  1. “Rogue One” trailer (I’ll be there).
  2. BMW 7 series commercial: Focused on driving, luxury. Not go-getting, but already have gotten.
  3. TGIFriday’s endless apps. (Swimming comes on, pig out commercial appears.)
  4. GE: “GE is digital and industrial” commercial with a young woman engineer trying to explain that to what looks like her family, who just doesn’t get it. Another worldwide Olympics partner.
  5. Minute Maid dad and daughter commercial: Father playing tea with his daughter, she shares her Minute Maid with him.
  6. GEICO pirate commercial: Right as they’re about to capture a ship, the captain’s parrot repeats some stupid things he said about the crew. Get’s a mutinee.
  7. Samsung Galaxy S7 active, water resistant phone. The dad fumbling phone across town commercial that you’ve probably already seen.

Swimming begins.

Olympics Commercial Break 8

  1. Verizon Commercial: Family phone plan. Up to four free Samsung Galaxy phones, America’s best network. Very benefits-focused.
  2. “Superstore” TV show Olympics episode commercial.
  3. BMW: “Ultimate Driving Machine” theme, lease a 528 Sedan CTA.
  4. NBC: “Storm Ranger 10” commercial (focus is storm chaser truck, probably a regional commercial).

More swimming.

Olympics Commercial Break 9

  1. “The Girl on the Train” movie commercial.
  2. Nationwide Insurance commercial with Rachel Platten jingle.
  3. Enterprise truck/car rental and sales: Joel McHale commercial with cars popping out of other cars. Highlights all the stuff you can rent, or even buy, from Nationwide.

More Swimming. Katie Ledecky wins a gold medal.

Olympics Commercial Break 10

  1. “Sully” movie commercial. You know, I loved the idea of this movie, but seeing the commercial, it distinctly feels like they’re milking small slights for major drama. Not interested.
  2. Chevy awards commercial again.

Interview with Katie Ledecky. Shocking how much more relaxed swimmers are than the gymnasts.

Michael Phelps races next. He’s covered with cupping “bruises” (let’s face it, they’re big hickies).

Michael Phelps Wearing Medals
That’s less than half of them.

Phelps wins his 20th gold medal — that’s gotta be one blingy hat stand. Le Clos doesn’t even medal — that’s gotta sting. Announcer reminds us, “You don’t poke the tiger.” I’d have gone with leopard given all those hickey spots.

Americans swim good.

Olympics Commercial Break 11

Coca Cola: “Anyone can have a gold moment. Share yours with a #That’sGold” sponsor message.

  1. Followed by Coca Cola Olympics summer feeling commercial.
  2. Toyota Camry commercial about brothers racing Camries in Monaco.
  3. Subway commercial: Haven’t seem much of Subway this year. Kind of strange given all those “We eat Subway” commercials with the athletes from the last Olympics.

More swimming.

Olympics Commercial Break 12

  1. Google: “Free Up Space” cloud photo storage commercial. Showing photos ruined by running out of storage. Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” playing in the background — great deep cut. I don’t think “Free Up Space” costs anything, so Olympic ad to promote a more or less free service on their free phone OS.
  2. Geico: Commercial about proposals and butt dialing. You’ve seen it in normal rotation.
  3. BMW iPerformance commercial: “The ultimate driving machine.” Direct “lease this car” CTA at the end (BMW has done that all night).
  4. Coca Cola Olympic summer commercial again.

Back to swimming, with a promise that gymnastics will be coming back soon.

Olympics Commercial Break 13

Sponsors identified: Bridgestone, Citi, Disney’s Pete’s Dragon and Folgers.

  1. Powerade Olympic boxing commercial: Shakur Stevenson spotlight. “We’re all just a kid from somewhere.” Continues them of inspiring commercials.
  2. Hellman’s #Strangewich commercial again. Still want one.
  3. Citi Olympic sponsor commercial: “Our business isn’t sports … Our business is helping Americans make progress,” while showing athletes at work getting ready.
  4. Pete’s Dragon again. Short teaser. Hits in theaters Friday.
  5. Kia “Free as a Bird” commercial: “Maybe the birds want to be as free as us.” Eagle lands in car for a ride. “More fun than flying.” First Kia commercial I caught.
  6. “Olympics Late Night” plug.
  7. Old Navy Commercial with Amy Schumer trying to babysit.
  8. Aveeno skin care commercial with Jennifer Aniston.
  9. State Farm commercial about getting the most out of life. “It’s about being here in all of life’s moments.”
  10. Visa commercial again.
  11. Special K Nourish cereal commercial. Focuses on active young women and how it fortifies them for the day ahead.
  12. Ford Freedom interest-free event commercial. Quick hitter, strong CTA.

Swimming medal ceremony.

Olympics Commercial Break 14

  1. Nissan: Olympics commercial with car slaloming around track hurdles. Strong CTA at the end.
  2. Santander Bank commercial for Simply Right Checking: Long haired dudes in a classic car tearing down the road through the woods. One gets a birthday card with a check. I don’t think you’d see that combination of characters, car, road trip in any other commercial.
  3. Car Max commercial with a guy carving a tiger, because a carved tiger won’t pounce. Just like their sales people won’t pounce when you come in.
  4. Subway #SearchforBetter commercial.
  5. Honda “Lane Watch” commercial: Cameras help you see the road like never before. KBB best brand award. No CTA.

More swimming.

Commercial Break 15 and on

  1. United Airline Olympians commercial.
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 “Whistle While You Work” commercial.
  3. BMW i3 “Let’s Go” commercial.
  4. “Kubo and the Two String” movie commercial.

More swimming.

Just after 10 we get new commercials. An animated movie called “Sing” that appears to be animals lip syncing in cars. Milk commercial, “Moms know their kids need love and encouragement.” Another BMW performance commercial with a strong lease CTA. A plug for the Gymnastics still to come. A Comcast “inspired stories” vignette about Michael Phelps’s first gold medal, sponsored by Comcast and followed by a Comcast commercial. Geico Marco Polo ad. Hillary Clinton ad about Trump’s clothes being made overseas. (No Trump commercials that I saw. But again, that could be regional. I’m in the Philadelphia area, and it might not be a battle ground for that campaign.)

So that’s my take. What have you seen in the Olympics advertising? What am I missing?

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

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