The 3 best ads of the 2016 Olympics: Gold, Silver and Bronze

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svgOver the two weeks of the Olympics, there are just a ton of ads. After a while they all blur together. It would be easy to make an Olympic ad, if the goal was just to fit in. Show a little bit of the athlete’s background story,  some footage of the athlete’s accomplishments, then show how this all fits to the brand (even if it is not a natural fit, try anyway) and then cut to black screen at the end with the logo with a tagline come up.

Ta-da. You have a classic Olympic ad.

This type of ad is what I would consider “good but not different”. While you might enjoy watching it and think “I like that ad”. However, after seeing 38 identical ads over the next 2 hours, you won’t remember anything about any of the ads. With such a sea of ads, only the ones that are very different will stand out. The second thing I would stress is that the ad has to fit with the strategy of the brand. The ideal sweet spot is both Smart and different.

As a Brand Leader, you should always be thinking of ways for your marketing communication to break through the clutter and use your brand story to move the consumer. During the Olympics, the objective of these iconic brands is to continue to tug at the heart of your own consumers. You’re not really going to sell to new consumers, but rather re-enforce to those who already love you. With that, you sure better be on when it comes to what your brand is all about.

The best Marketing breaks through the clutter (Attention) links closely to the brand name (Branding), communicates main message (Communication) and makes brand seem different (stickiness).

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Bronze Medal:  “Thank You Mom” by P&G

Sure it is a basic pool out of the previous two Olympic Games but it is still working. This spot is high on attention and branding as people are now looking for these spots, grabbing the tissues and enjoying these spots. They don’t communicate a ton about the brand, but they have high stickiness, as evidence by sharing (21 million views on Youtube) and talk value at the lunch table. Plus, I still get a slight tear in the eye.


Silver Medal: “Unlimited Together” by Nike

Imagine a brief that says “we want to do an ad about the basketball team that screams patriotism…and make it different from anything else”. The first part of that brief would be easy to gather up all the cliches. The second part is extremely difficult. This is a beautiful Nike spot, with Chance the Rapper doing a take on “America the Beautiful”.  Nice visuals, a different look at the behind the scenes of the team. They have nailed it, fitting nicely into Nike’s Unlimited campaign.


Gold Medal: “Unlimited Youth” by Nike

Out of all the ads this year, this one resonated the most with me. If an 86 year old doing Iron Man races is not enough to get your butt off the couch, I’m not sure what is.


That’s right: Nike gets my gold and silver.  I saw quite a few other good ads along the way. What is amazing is that Nike is not an official sponsor of the Olympics. They keep stealing the show, without paying the IOC fees.

Here are the Honorable Mentions


Apple launched a great new campaign this summer, during the Olympics, but would be hard-pressed to call it an Olympic ad. I love it, and it certainly made me watch. During the most divided year I can remember, this Apple ad does a nice job in bringing the world together.  Have a look.


It looks like Coke had the same brief as Apple. Another nice spot for them. However, it does not seem to have gotten the necessary break through. (only 57k views)


I also liked the Gillette spot, that showed the darker side of how hard these athletes work. It narrowly missed my podium, because I think it will fit in, more than it will stand out. Fits nicely with the “The Best a Man can Get” brand idea. Well done.


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