Staff Reporters
Jul 24, 2019

Our five favourite Olympic ad campaigns of all time

Authenticity and a dollop of inspiration, it turns out, are key elements to an influential Olympic Games campaign. Here are five of our favourites.

Our five favourite Olympic ad campaigns of all time

With exactly one year to go until the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, advertisers and agencies are itching to take advantage of this mega-marketing opportunity. Today, we reflect on the most inspiring campaigns of the past, as a reminder of what makes an ad fly to Olympic heights.

1. P&G: "Thank You, Mom — Strong" (Rio 2016 Olympics)

This touching film shows the moments when a mother's strength makes a difference, and how children draw on that strength as they grow up. It builds on the tradition of telling the stories of Olympians, but with a new take around the critical roles mother play in future sports stars' lives.

"Strong", a follow-up to Procter & Gamble's previous Olympic Games campaigns "Pick Them Back Up", "Kids" and "Best Job", was among the most viewed Olympic Games ads of all time. There is a simple reason; as gold medalist swimmer Dana Vollmer said, “watching this video reminded me of my own mother.” Most importantly, the campaign appears authentic to the audience, so consumers are willing to view it as a meaningful microfilm, instead of just a persuasive advert.

2. Nike: "Find Your Greatness" (London 2012 Olympics)

Who doesn't love success stories, especially when they happen to ordinary people? Nike, which has form in this area, leverages it here for another inspirational Olympic video. In the first scene, the long shot of a young man running reminds the audience of Forrest Gump, capturing the collective imagination. It builds into several powerful stories to encourage people to fight for the moments of their own greatness.

This campaign went viral during London Olympics and generated millions of views in YouTube in a very short period of time. 

3. Telstra: "Down Under" (London 2012 Olympics)

Proving that a song has the power to unite a whole country, Telstra made this emotional and powerful campaign by repurposing Australia's unofficial sporting anthem, 'Down Under', in support of the country's athletes. Believe us, after watching this ad, you won't be able to get the song out of your head for the rest of the day. 

4. Samsung: "Do What You Can't — Human Nature" (PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics)

Another impressive and inspirational effort is this one by Samsung, featuring ordinary people overcoming the adversity they encounter as they chase their ambitions. The one-minute video ends with the scene of a woman with a prosthetic leg trying to stand up and walk, aided by a virtual-reality headset.

Targeting the tech-savvy millenials every brand wants to reach, this ad continues a theme for Samsung. In a previous "Do What You Can't" advert, the company depicted a VR headset accidentally falling onto an ostrich's head. Seeing virtual clouds, the bird starts to practice flying. What an excellent combination of creativity and technology.

5. Coca-Cola: "Bird's Nest" (Beijing 2008 Olympics)

What's the best way to impress people with the iconic Bird's Nest stadium as your inspiration? Build one yourself! Coca-Cola's advert features animated birds flying across the world to collect drinking straws and building a miniature replica of the Beijing Stadium. They then watch the opening ceremony from their "new home". The pleasing background music and cute animated birds make watching the ad itself enjoyable. Who can resist it? 

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