When the 2020 Olympics were indefinitely postponed, not only were thousands of athletes disappointed, but the best laid plans of Olympic advertisers were also dashed. Now, with one of the most controversial and surprising Olympics in history over, we were able to see what some of the world’s leading ad agencies came up with over a year later. Here is Esparza’s weigh in for the pewter, bronze, silver, and gold of Olympic Advertising.
Pewter- 2021 Toyota Big Game Commercial: Jessica Long’s Story | Upstream
We loved this spot from Toyota, which stars Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long. We’ve seen hundreds of Olympic spots chronologizing an athlete’s inspiring journey, but what sets this one apart is the beautiful, almost surreal concept of Long swimming past floating sets that dramatize moments from her life. Paired with dreamy cinematography, and an emotional punch line, this spot is a winner.
Bronze- World Wheelchair Rugby (WWR), We’re not here to inspire, we’re here to win
In contrast — World Wheelchair Rugby (WWR) had something very different to say for their Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games spot. The spot follows a young wheelchair rugby player, inspired by pros like Paralympian Zak Madell, as he trains and rises in the ranks. But in the end, we see him lose, knocked to the court by Madell himself.
WWR’s message subverts a narrative we’ve seen a hundred times, one of inspiration and the underdog winning. WWR instead highlights the fierceness of competition for athletes in a sport many of us only associate with disability. We love a surprising concept, and the strong message WWR makes with this spot.
Silver- Fry Force, Taco Bell
Taco Bell’s Fry Force was a surprise contender, a spot that uses Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries as inspiration for a mecha anime trailer. The concept is honestly kind of bizarre, but it works because of Taco Bell’s commitment to the bit, and the seriousness with which they build out an entire universe and plot surrounding nacho fries (one that even has CRB calling for a full anime adaptation of the commercial).
The spot’s awesome animation also didn’t hurt in capturing our attention. As anime becomes more and more popular globally, we expect to see it become a trend in advertising. Taco Bell wins silver with this ad for being ahead of the curve.
Gold- Timekeeping and tradition: OMEGA meets Japan
Our gold medalist wins for simplicity of concept, with a spot that seamlessly merges imagery of Japan, Omega watches, and Olympic bodies into a feast for the eyes. With match cuts that would make any Hollywood film editor happy, Omega creates a brilliantly simple spot that evokes wonder, beauty, and awe.