Thursday, 28 June 2012

7 Adverts from the Olympic Buildup

I’ve seen the warnings about how to plan your transport and how to avoid getting caught in unusual rush hours. I’ve followed the debate about what to do with the big stadium after it’s finished. I’ve seen Wenlock and Mandeville in shops now, and I’ve even seen a few kids on the tube carrying the little Wenlock dolls. I’ve been enraged by the various conspiracy theorists who think we’ll all die in 2012. This can only mean one thing: THE LONDON OLYMPICS ARE JUST A MONTH AWAY.

Like with any major sporting event, the adverts have all cashed in too. A while ago we looked at the Superbowl adverts, so now let’s have a look at some of the adverts in the build-up to the Olympics after the click:

Visa: Life Flows Better with Visa

Does the stunning diversity and determination of these athletes (there’s not just all ethnicities and economic backgrounds but also the Paralympic athletes are in there too!) make you want to buy a credit card? Do you honestly imagine that the huge planetwide financial network is somehow supportive and highly moral, as they seem to be asserting?

Me neither.

Tampax: Death to Mother Nature

Adverts for tampons and pads have always been about how active you can be whilst still ensuring that you don’t get blood all over your ski suit/jet bike/water skis/white sofa/ice skates/rocket car/dog. But good grief:

Ooooh, look at her go!

So pretty! And the way she confidently overcomes bleeding from the vagina actually IS attractive

Anyway, there have been at least two important studies of female athletes and it’s been concluded that mostly it doesn’t matter if you’re having your period or not. Sure, there are factors to consider like iron deficiency and stress-related lack of menstruation. But having a wedge of cotton stuffed down your pants or up your twat will probably be uncomfortable (I have a penis so I don’t know) and I’m sure most athletes will risk the limited ridicule of a heavy flow in exchange for unimpeded peak performance. Even I would endure blood stains on my running shorts for a gold medal, and I'm no kind of athlete.
British Airways: Don't Fly

Watch that one back without the sound. Imagine it’s the news footage of a strange airline accident:

“Good evening, this is the 6 o’clock news. Disaster struck London today as several immense passenger planes accidentally landed at notable London landmarks. The disruption to traffic is still being resolved, but for now the victims of these misdirected planes have been relocated to the Olympic Stadium to be processed, given first aid and then reunited with their families and luggage. While British Airways staff have been praised for their ability to keep up spirits – handing out arts and crafts materials as the planes taxied through East London and even painting the faces of children to build morale – serious questions are being asked of Heathrow traffic control. All of the pilots are on suspension pending inquiries into how this could have been allowed to happen.”

The tagline is ‘Don’t Fly. Support Team GB’. Is that a very productive thing for an airline to tell people? “Sure, stay in London and support the UK effort to win some gold medals. And after that, why fly anyway? Just don’t ever fly again!” Way to go, British Airways. It feels like this was an advert aimed at the audiences of other nations, with different captions for each nation. Something like ‘Fly team GB. Support your own’. But when it came to England itself, they really got it wrong.

Incidentally the music was London Calling by The Clash (in case you're some sort of ignorant not-me). You’ll probably hear a lot from The Clash this summer – I’m sure the BBC and every other media broadcaster ever will think to use London Calling at some point. Speaking of which...

Omega: Start Me Up

Timing races and sprints and whatnot is a major part of the Olympics, obviously. Omega the watch company has apparently secured that juicy, delicious sponsorship deal. Surprise, they went with a Rolling Stones soundtrack:


Sorry, I was rocking out. Where was I? Oh yeah, watches or something.

UPS: That's Olympic Logistics

Urgh. From Rolling Stones to this... this curse. The infamous UPS Olympic advert has a blog post all of its own and you can click this link to read my views on it. THE BITCH JUST WON’T DIE!!

Virgin Media: Usain Bolt Looks Nothing Like Richard Branson

Virgin often recruits beloved celebrities to promote its various things from internet to space travel. But when Virgin Media featured Usain Bolt (a star Jamaican runner with a list of athletic achievements longer than… well, it’s very long) it fell kind of flat. Because look at the advert:

Usain Bolt is fast. Virgin media’s broadband is apparently also fast. Therefore give Usain Bolt a blond goatee and pretend like he’s pretending to be Richard Branson…? I mean, my first instinct would have been to stage some kind of race, althete vs internet, because the point is speed. But they produced a whole series of adverts with Bolt in his running gear posing as Branson while Branson went Wile E. Coyote about getting back into his office. Maybe I didn’t get it, but I’m pretty sure nobody else did either. It’s not funny apart from the one intentional sight gag about how ridiculously different Usain Bolt looks from Richard Branson: one is tall and athletic with short hair and no beard, the other is late-to-middle aged with hair all over.

I feel like there’s another important difference but I can’t figure it out…

Bolt does his famous 'to di world' pose at the end like it's somehow relevant, but it does mean when the film shoot ends, Bolt can go back to his hotel room and roll around on piles of money. For ten minutes at least before he has to keep training, obviously.

Argentina: The Falklands

One interesting advert that caused quite a lot of controversy (at the time) came out on TV in Argentina of all places. You wouldn’t think it was important since all most of us know of Argentina is how it shouldn’t cry for Madonna. But you should also know some background about this thing: the UK and Argentina went to war over the Falkland Islands (and the oil beneath it) in the 80s. Hundreds died on both sides and Britain ended up with them. That advert shows apparently-famous Argentine athletes training around the Falkland Islands, then the caption translates as 'To compete on English soil we train on Argentine soil'. You can understand how that would ruffle some feathers. The silliest part is that they aren't actually adverts for anything.

If it was any other set of islands it probably wouldn’t even matter – they’re cold, lonely and pretty unproductive. Hell, penguins and wind-farms are featured in the advert, literally immediately! How is that for giving you a sense of atmosphere? Do you like fishing boats grounded by the tide (and also having oil fields)? Then fight for the Falklands!

But the Argentinian teams are still welcome in our city. Hell, I’ll buy every Argentine athletic team a drink in the name of peace. It won't even be poisoned.

Unless I've put money on their event.

Don’t forget to watch out for more Olympic adverts as the events get underway in London – it promises to be hilarious. Then come on back here and let’s talk about them.


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