The Rio Olympics are so close now we can almost smell the Deep Heat. So, while the world’s biggest brands and advertisers get ready to battle it out, we thought we’d identify some of the key creative ad trends we have already noticed ahead of next Friday’s Opening Ceremony.
Certainly, looking through this year’s crop of ads, it’s already clear that advertisers aiming for gold in 2016 are dialling up the emotional intensity of their content. We’ve already seen plenty of stark imagery, pounding soundtracks, and emotive speeches – all things that get people talking about and sharing ads.
But what other trends have we noticed? Here are our three picks:
1. Origin stories
Like all the best superheroes, the world’s greatest athletes often have inspiring and unexpected origins. We’ve seen plenty of brands explore what makes a world-class athlete this year, either focusing on real sporting figures, or more generally in ads like P&G’s ‘Thank You, Mom’.
Usain Bolt is undoubtedly the most famous sprinter in the world, and the sheer number of ads he’s appeared in ahead of the Rio Olympics has certainly helped. In this spot from Gatorade, Bolt talks about his love of sport growing up, reminiscing fondly about his childhood in Jamaica, and how those formative years motivated him to be the best.
‘Thank You, Mom’ is an ode to the hard work of mums around the world, and the role they play in helping children follow their dreams. The ad uses dramatic and emotional imagery to show that behind every great athlete is a strong, supportive mum.
This ad from USA Swimmers, the country’s national swimming organisation, gives us a glimpse into the early lives of some of the most well-known athletes. It uses real home footage of swimmers like Michael Phelps participating in some of their earliest competitions. These are then matched with announcements of past Olympic victories to create an incredibly inspirational spot.
2. Training regimes
One of the biggest trends around this year’s Olympic Games has been a focus on the exhaustive, often painful training regimes of the world’s top athletes.
Under Armour’s Rule Yourself ad, featuring Michael Phelps, already swept up at Cannes Lions – and for good reason. The spot’s minimalist, stark visuals are the perfect match for the swimmer’s unwavering determination and gruelling schedule. These themes are also present in Under Armour’s other Olympic spot, which highlights the similarly intensive training undergone by the USA Gymnastics team.
This spot from Gillette goes out of its way to show that being the best in the world demands a level of commitment and intensity that very few people possess. The ad shows many of the sacrifices Olympians make for their sports, as well as the crushing amount of preparation they have to do.
Maybe it’s a British thing, but it’s hard to dislike Mo Farah. The long-distance runner is always chirpy and, frankly, seems like quite a nice chap. This ad from Nike shows a different side to the Olympian, however, displaying his commitment and the impressive lengths he goes to, focusing on his long stints at a high-altitude training camp in Ethiopia.
3. Don’t forget about the kids!
Part of the importance of the Olympics is that they encourage a whole new generation to fall in love with sports. Advertisers this year are most definitely aware of this, with a number of spots focusing on the inspirational power of the Games.
Femvertising juggernaut #LikeAGirl this summer with this ‘Keep Playing’ spot. The ad focuses on the ways girls are put off pursuing sports as they grow older, and encourages them to continue doing what they love, a message which has even more weight as we approach the Olympic Games.
In a similar vein to Gatorade’s other spots, this ad focuses on the way parents support and encourage the children to chase their dreams. ‘Never Lose The Love’ highlights the importance of sporting role models and clubs, and has an accompanying charity campaign where viewers can vote to award various youth organisations cash prizes.
This early promotional campaign from McDonald’s shows how impactful the Olympic Games can be on budding sportsmen and women by offering a number of very lucky children the chance to attend the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony.