Every two years millions of people sit around their television to experience one of the greatest spectacles athletics has to offer, the Olympics.
The Olympic games offer the opportunity to watch top athletes from around the world perform their craft. From figure skating to curling and everything in between the Winter Olympics provides a chance to follow sports you most likely wouldn’t watch otherwise. With over one hundred events in fifteen sports, there tends to be an event for everyone. However, with the massive viewership comes massive advertising campaigns.
Companies often spend millions of dollars and even more resources attempting to take advantage. Some brands aim for the inspirational message while others take to riskier approaches, which occasionally fail to portray their message.
Here, I’m going to award medals for the best and worst advertisements from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Note: With an outstanding number of commercials, I’ll be staying away from all NBC advertisements since it was the main platform to watch the games.
Bronze – Alibaba, “To the Greatness of Small”
Alibaba illustrated one of the most powerful messages with their “To the Greatness of Small” campaign, and this ad absolutely deserves the Bronze medal. Founder, Jack Ma is famous for his optimistic approach to business and philanthropist initiatives. As a self-made billionaire he founded Alibaba from his apartment without any investors and limited funds. This campaign exemplifies how one of the most successful businesses in history was founded and what it stands for. As the advertisement states, “Alibaba believes in the power of small.”
Silver – Ancestry DNA, “America’s Greatness Comes from Everywhere”
Ancestry DNA is notorious for their advertisements displaying real customers discovering the truth behind their heritage. With this campaign, they took it a step further with voice overs from the players of the 1980 United States hockey team who won the Miracle on Ice. With this brilliant ad, Ancestry brings a sense of nostalgia to the viewer. The message is meant to bring people together by demonstrating that diversity can make greatness happen. “We all came together as one, that’s what made us champions.”
Gold – Toyota, “Good Odds”
Toyota took their advertising to the next level this year with the “Start Your Impossible” campaign. They released several separate ads with the same message that anything is truly possible if you’re motivated enough. As cliché as that sounds, Toyota unquestionably succeeded with bringing authenticity. Out of all their promos, Good Odds wins the gold. This commercial follows the story of Lauren Woolstencroft, an eight-time Paralympic gold medalist who was born missing her left arm as well as both her legs. From birth to glory, her journey serves as inspiration to everyone it reaches. The music, the graphics, and the message all come together to make the best advertisement from these Olympics.
Bronze – Under Armour, “Under Armour and US Speedskating Gear Up for the Next Chapter”
I was expecting more from Under Armour this year. Rather than using their traditional approach of using high profile athletes to motivate the viewer, they chose to demonstrate how they delivered a new suit to the United States Speedskating team. The graphics were phenomenal, however there wasn’t a message in it. It may be true that they brought the Speedskating team an innovative product, but that doesn’t necessarily appeal to the rest of the public. Without any voice or music, this was far from their best work.
Silver – Aldi, “Ice Skater Advert”
Aldi was a surprise contender in this year’s games. It was nice to see a different, comedic approach in the commercial forefront. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and won them the Silver in the worst advertisement category. The ad shows a man struggling to keep his balance on an ice-covered road and somehow striking a pose while sliding through the door. I get the feeling that this was meant to be tacky, but doesn’t do the trick.
Gold – TMall, “Set Winter on Fire”
Coincidentally, the gold medal winner for the worst Olympic ad goes to TMall, a Chinese online retailer operated by Alibaba. Perhaps Alibaba should have kept to their motivational themed campaign that won them the Bronze because there’s too much happening here. I don’t understand the “Set Winter on Fire” phrase along with everything else from the video. With the dub-step music in the background, a man riding a horse and a random guy dancing in front of several cars, this deservingly wins the gold for the worst advertisement from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Mitchell Gaylord is a Junior Marketing student at Temple University and current Marketing Associate for Flackable, a national public relations and digital marketing agency headquartered in Philadelphia.