The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are in full swing this week and brands have jumped on full-force with their advertising. After the full-on blitz of the Super Bowl, there's barely time to take a breath before being bombarded with Olympic-themed campaigns.
Unlike Super Bowl ads that carry a $4-million price tag and force brands to produce one-hit wonders, Olympic advertising is a bit more relaxed. According to Kantar Media, the average cost of an ad running during the winter games is just under $100,000. Advertisers also have the option to run on multiple NBC network and cable channels that are broadcasting the games. Many brands are also running Web spots, either in conjunction with TV or in spite of it.
This year, we’ve seen some brands come out with longer spots for the Web that tug at heart strings, while others are tackling the social equality issues surrounding this year's games. Read on to see which brands are going for the gold at the Winter Olympics.
1. Dos Equis
Dos Equis beer has created an Internet icon with its "Most Interesting Man in the World" character. If you haven’t seen the memes, climb out from under your rock and please go here immediately.
This year, the Most Interesting Man in the World is crashing Sochi with a 30-second TV spot that will run on select NBC markets. Dos Equis is not an official sponsor of the games, so the brand avoids using the word "Olympics" and instead alludes to the event with scenes from popular winter sports like skiing and hockey. The beer brand also plans to offer up Most Interesting Man reactions to various events on Twitter using animated GIFs of the character’s face.
U.S. car manufacturer Chevy is one of the brands choosing to make a political statement with its Olympic ads this year. There has been public outcry and even protests against the Olympics being held in Russia this year because of President Vladimir Putin’s signing of anti-gay legislation last summer.
Many brands, including Chevy, made the decision to include homosexual couples and LGBT support in the advertising running during the Winter Olympics. Chevy had two ads that ran during this year’s Opening Ceremony that focused on the “New Us” and the redefining of what a family looks like. The first spot shows a gay wedding and the second features two gay dads. It’s done in a very low-key, family orientated way that says a huge deal about how Chevy views American culture.
Luxury car brand BMW put a lot into its Olympic advertising this year. According to the brand, its Olympic TV spots are the “largest media investment of the year.”
The first spot, which ran during the Opening Ceremony, uses the words of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke in a voice-over of futuristic images. The spot, and two others that have yet to be released, is centered around BMW’s new plug-in offerings, the i3 and i8.
BMW has a more direct connection to this year’s games, as well. The brand helped to develop the U.S. team’s two-man bobsled that the team will use to compete in the games. NBC ran a documentary on building the bobsled that aired in early January as a precursor to the games.
Procter & Gamble decided to focus its Olympic spots on heartfelt “thank yous" to moms and dads. One spot from P&G will induce tears and make you want to call your mother after you see the heartfelt images of sports moms picking up their children, fall after fall. The spot ends in glory and lots of hugs for mom.
Gillette, one of P&G’s numerous brands, took to the men’s side and put out a spot highlighting a famous hockey father and son, Bob and Ryan Suter. Ryan Suter is competing in this year’s games as part of Team U.S.A., and his father, Bob, is a member of the America’s gold medal-winning 1980 hockey team — also known as the “Miracle on Ice” team. The spot profiles the duo’s relationship and how Bob influenced his son to play and have Olympic goals.
The Olympic marketing and advertising coming from McDonalds this year may be the most controversial on the list. Both on the brand website and in a TV spot, the fast food chain compares winning a Gold Medal to eating a chicken McNugget. Tying fast food to an athletic event doesn’t make much sense to begin with, and in this case, McDonald’s may have reached too far.
The marketing idea stems from the tradition of Olympic gold medalists biting on their medals. The brand equates the imagery of Olympic gold medalists putting the gold medals in their mouths with actors biting into McNuggets. It’s almost offensive to compare a lifetime of hard work and achievement to eating processed chicken parts.
Coca-Cola carried over its message of cultural diversity from the Super Bowl with a longer version of the “America the Beautiful” spot for the Olympics. Featuring the iconic song in multiple languages and depicting families of all cultures, it feels even more at home during the multinational athletic event. The spot even features a family with a gay couple – which, as previously mentioned, is a hot button topic during this year’s games.
Coke’s sponsorship of the games also brought it condemnation by some for that very reason. LGBT activists Queer Nation NY took a previous multicultural commercial from the brand, “I’d Like the World to Sing,” to spread their message of equality surrounding the Olympic games this year. The spot took images and the song from the ‘70s spot and inserted images of LGTB activists and protests in Russia. Coke doesn’t seem to mind the hijacking of the commercial, though. In statements to AmericaBlog, the brand said that it supports LGTB rights, but still defends its support of the Olympic games and stands behind security guards that were sporting Coke logos while detaining human rights activists. It seems the brand is trying to be supportive of LGBT rights while not missing out on marketing opportunities.