Analyzing Olympic Commercials

By: Jacob Hales

The Winter Olympics are almost over and that means the commercials are too. But have you ever noticed that there is a major difference between a Winter Olympic commercial and say a Super Bowl ad? When you think about it, both are major sporting events that glue millions to their TV screens. So, why are the commercials so vastly different?

The first notable Super Bowl ads aired during the 1970s and 80s. They were wildly different from the ones played today, but they most certainly caught the attention of the average consumer. The most famous of the era was made by Coca-Cola and was nicknamed “Hey Kid, Catch!”, featuring “Mean Joe” Greene and a young Tommy Okon. In the ad, “Mean Joe” is offered a Coke by a young fan after sustaining an injury. He tells the football player that he is still the best. And, after the game Greene tosses the boy his jersey while exclaiming, “hey kid, catch!” The commercial was extremely popular and boosted Coke sales tenfold.

With the exception of a few, commercials played during the Super Bowl are either strangely funny or cute and adorable; they almost apply to the pathos side of marketing and typically stick with consumers. What’s really strange, almost none of them pertain to the product nor football. Why?

Meanwhile, Olympic commercials are undeniably inspiring and patriotic of the country in which they’re broadcasted. Take, for example, the Toyota ads premiering in the USA. They focus primarily on the patriotic aspect; they still predominantly use pathos but also incorporate the sports played at the games.

But still stands the question, why are they so different? Think about the people who watch these sporting events. Everyone watches the Olympics while usually only Americans watch the Super Bowl. And, judging by the ads, is it suggestive that American consumers only care about food, beer, and puppies? Probably. But is that so far off the truth? You tell me.



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