At its core, the Olympics are about pushing the boundaries of human limitations. The primordial elements that cement the Olympics in our hearts and minds center on perseverance, competition, achievement, and even defeat. It’s the rugged path to Olympic victory, often requiring seemingly superhuman skills, that captures viewers’ attention across the globe for two straight weeks. It’s a powerful ethos and brands jump at this opportunity.
A lot of the advertising during the Olympics attempts to harness the triumphant spirit of the event and is ultimately designed to pull at our heart strings. Brands do this to create an emotional bond with their viewers, establishing a deeply rooted link between what people are feeling and the brand itself.
For example, Toyota’s inaugural global marketing campaign, “Start Your Impossible”, which aired throughout the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. The commercials in this campaign showcase the tenacity of the human spirit by highlighting Olympic and Paralympic athletes, as well as everyday athletes oozing grit, who all persevere and excel in the face of adversity.
Brands take this emotional bonding approach because, if done well, the emotions they evoke leave a longer lasting impression on our brains than messaging focused on product benefits or cost savings. In a similar vein, P&G hit America with their “Thank you, Mom” commercial, part of the company’s #LoveOverBias campaign. “Thank you, Mom” is a heartfelt tearjerker that features moms supporting their children’s ambitious dreams as they deal with bias stemming from race, religion, sexual orientation or disability—it’s galvanizing messaging and moments that viewers can rally around.
The PyeongChang Olympic games have also been a stage for blurring the lines between record setting human and technological feats. Intel wowed the world, and broke an international record in the process, with their choreographed opening ceremony stunt that included 1,200 synchronized drones. The drones created astonishing, moving shapes like the formation of the Olympic rings and what looks like a living, breathing snowboarder. Microsoft AI went even further, showcasing the mind blowing advances in technology that their pioneering products are enabling. Their commercial featuring hip hop artist, Common, ends with a call-to-action, challenging their viewers to change the world themselves using “more power at your fingertips than entire generations that came before you.”
We tune into the Olympics to be amazed, moved and inspired. In real-time we watch Olympians triumph and Olympians fall—it’s epic storytelling about unbridled passion at its best. Moving forward, we can expect more and more brands to reflect these elemental themes in their advertising, seeking to relate on an emotional level, and connecting their customers’ personal struggles with the company’s drive to redefine what is possible.
Image Source: Toyota