Rio 2016: The Most Inspiring Advertising at the Games

Every four years something incredible happens: something that, no matter the circumstances, brings the world together in an event of human potential, strength, and dedication. These are the Summer Olympic Games and this year, advertisers are having a field day with the opportunities to tug at viewers heartstrings.

While one would think there would be countless advertisements saturating the market during such a global event, it’s actually the exact opposite. The International Olympic Committee has set strict guidelines for advertisers since the dawn of advertising itself, and while changes for Olympic advertising changed in 2015, official advertising and sponsorships are still under harsh guidelines. This has ensured top quality ads from global brands such as McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, GE, and several others during the actual games themselves. However, brands like Nike, Apple, and Gatorade are freed from the IOC’s strict guidelines and are now allowed to create advertising with Olympic athletes without using the likeness or terminology of the Olympics.

Here are some of the most inspiring Olympic-themed ads being served during this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio:

Gillette: Perfect Isn’t Pretty

Oftentimes, Olympic feats look much easier than they really are, sometimes to the point that criticism can come before an athlete’s last lap or final dismount. In fact, most viewers have very little knowledge of the amount of time and effort athletes put into these events. Gillette aimed to change that.

The ad is a darker take on the traditional Olympic advert featuring the intensity of training for athletes Neymar Jr., Ning Zetao, Ashton Eaton, and Andy Tennant as they go for gold. It features the incredible pain and sacrifices these individuals go through to obtain and perfect perfection proving that no matter the ranking, Olympic athletics are much more than meets the eye.

Procter & Gamble: Thank You, Mom

For anyone that has watched the Olympics for the past few cycles, Procter & Gamble has become a household name for the incredible advertisements that are put out during the games. The ads always surround the same theme of motherhood and the fact that “It Takes Someone Strong to Make Someone Strong.”

Featuring countless scenes of the strength of mothers of Olympic athletes, the shots are something the vast majority of individuals can relate to whether through their by-blood parent or through someone who has played a motherly role in their life. This unifying factor is what makes P&G’s Olympic advertising so strong with this year being no different. Grab the tissues because this ad is sure to choke you up.

Gatorade: Never Lose the Love

On a more lighthearted note, Gatorade brought us a different look into Olympic training with a spot featuring athletes like Serena Williams and their “younger” counterpart. The pairs create a playful but uplifting spot about any athlete’s life-long commitment to their sport, while encouraging pushing yourself to the limit in anything you’re passionate about. We’re not surprised that a company synonymous with athletics had some powerful words to say during the biggest sporting event in the world.

Apple: Human Family

Not new to the realm of awe-inspiring advertising, Apple found an even better way to reach their global market through airing during the Olympic Games. Although not a sponsor, the global tech giant found a way to put their own touch on a concept we all can connect with: human togetherness.

Aired during the Olympics, but not even remotely Olympic or athletically themed, their Human Family spot captured this concept by featuring content shot by their customers around the globe. While not themed around the event, the ad fit perfectly with the overarching theme of the Olympics bringing the world together and brought an inspiring message through the words of Maya Angelou.

Nike: Unlimited You

Once again, it’s not surprising to see a global athletic brand making their way into the Olympic spotlight, but Nike takes the gold for their creative approach. Also not an official sponsor, Nike has always had a cloud of mystery surrounding their Olympic marketing tactics, and this year is just like other games. Instead of being an official Olympic sponsor, Nike is an official sponsor of Team USA which is why athletes are wearing Nike apparel during interviews and during medal ceremonies.

Their Olympic ad that has aired for the duration of the games so far is another lighthearted take, this time including comedy. The ad features young athletes making mistakes during their sport with a “talking head” type announcer telling them that one day they’re going to take gold. With a similar message to Gatorade, this Nike spot is all about pushing yourself to your highest potential and further with time and dedication.


Have any Olympic ads that we missed that inspired you? Let us know! We’d love to hear how the world of advertising is inspiring you.