2016 Olympic Advertising

Thanks to some Herculean feats by the illustrious organizers of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad – and over 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees, including first-time entrants Kosovo and South Sudan – we have witnessed quite a show over the past several days. Haven’t we?

Technically, I was among the first people complaining about the blinding number and frequency of commercials aired during the Opening Ceremony; wow. In the early going, that programming approach stole the show in many ways, from my point of view – but I must admit that we all rely on advertising and sponsorship to a great extent to allow us to experience the Olympics. Since my clients are craftspeople of the highest order producing spectacular commercials and branded content, I can appreciate the value of creative advertising… but I agree with the broadcasters’ latest assessments, which have been forced to acknowledge how much viewers’ tastes have changed.

Synchronized with the broadcast of the Opening Ceremony from the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics on Aug. 5, my friend Ann Christine Diaz published this story in Ad Age, highlighting many of the major brands who bought time, so that NBC’s viewers could watch the show for free: The Best Ads of the Olympics Opening Ceremony

The next day, this Adweek story from Jason Lynch addressed the complaints heard ’round the world: “Here’s Why NBC Believes Viewers Are So Frustrated With Olympics Ads

On Aug. 9, Kara Chin’s Ad Age story put the Games’ advertising events into perspective, claiming “Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Steamrolls Olympics Ad Campaigns on Viral Chart

Personally, I took in the Opening Ceremony on NBC, and from then on, I’ve tuned into coverage there and on a few other networks, preferring to watch CNBC whenever possible. Every frame of each broadcast drew me straight into what is undeniably an elevated stage of competition, captivating me even in epic table tennis battles for all the glory. And while every country’s rugby athletes, swimmers, fencers, volleyballers and so many others have left me in awe, the same can be said for many of the master storytellers at work – on the broadcast side, and among the advertisers.

The example I’m embedding here is another offering from Samsung and their partners at advertising agency Leo Burnett. My clients at sound design and mixing studio Another Country in Chicago handled the final audio mix, which winds up being rather important in the story of South Sudan, the newest country to be recognized by the IOC, on the occasion of their first-ever Olympic team competing this year in Rio de Janeiro. These words accompany the official YouTube posting.

It is a moment of great pride for the entire nation and for South Sudanese athletes like Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan, who now have the opportunity to compete under their nation’s flag for the very first time.

Elsewhere, in Japan, my Tokyo-based friends at Cutters and Dictionary Films joined the charge led by Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo to transform an insult into a cultural revolution for Nike Japan. Witness Minohodoshirazu.

Whether or not these are the first Olympic Games you experience, I hope you are enjoying all the inspirations and festivities of Rio 2016. And sincere congratulations to Samsung, the proud sponsor of those who defy barriers. #DoWhatYouCant


Featured Video: Samsung Official TVC "The Chant" - Rio 2016 Olympic Games


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