It’s no secret that the Super Bowl is heralded for its stellar advertisements and, for some (myself included), the main reason to even watch the game. While the Olympics aren’t as well known for their advertisements as the Super Bowl, we have been treated to some inspiring campaigns this year - ranging from the funny and, the inspirational, to the videos that make you weep and to phone home.
Advertisers are clearly looking to capitalize on the emotional roller coaster that is the Olympics. It’s nearly impossible to avoid getting caught up in Olympic athletes’ stories of determination, dedication and, inner strength. From the athletes who have worked their entire lives to compete, to their families who have made great sacrifices to support them, to the viewers who root for friends, family, or their fellow countrymen/women, Olympians are a never-ending source of inspiration.
Brands like Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Nike, have all released campaigns that tug at your heartstrings. So, here’s a roundup of the best, and more importantly, cry-worthy video ads of the 2016 Olympic Games. Just as a heads up, this list may be NSFW - unless you don’t mind crying at your desk like I did. #noshame.
1. Hershey’s “Hello from Home” ft. Paralympian Mallory Weggemann
Hershey’s “Hello from Home” ad campaign highlights several Olympians, including Simone Biles and Jordan Burroughs, but the video about Paralympian Mallory Weggemann is incredibly moving. A paraplegic, Mallory lost her ability to walk but swimming is her safe haven. The video opens with visuals of Mallory slipping out of her wheelchair and into the pool while a voiceover of family and friends speak to her dedication to the sport, despite her disability. If that’s not enough to get you misty-eyed, the 1-2 punch comes at the end, when Mallory opens up a box filled with pictures from home, and chocolate bars, each encasing letters from her loved ones.
2. Gillette “Raising an Olympian” ft. Ashton Eaton
Proctor & Gamble’s “Raising an Olympian” campaign is an off-shoot of their larger, “Thank you Mom” campaign (more on that later in the list) and it’s a real tear-jerker. This ad focuses on decathlete Ashton Eaton, who, while growing up in Portland, Oregon, experienced bullying due to his ethnicity. The ad, narrated by his mother, is especially poignant now, when racial tension in the U.S. is high. Despite its relevance to current events, listening to Eaton’s mom become emotional while talking about her son is as heartwarming as it is heart wrenching.
3. Nike “Unlimited Together” ft. Chance the Rapper & USA Basketball teams
The entire Nike Unlimited campaign is goose-bump inducing but this particular ad, featuring a new song by Chance the Rapper, is dramatic. Shot in high contrast black and white, images of the USA Men and Women’s basketball teams are projected onto building facades, interspersed with American flags. The song, aptly titled “We the People,” features the lyrics “through the perilous fight, want you to be brave/you want a hero? You need a teammate.” The message of unity is refreshing and much needed, and its implications speak on several levels outside the Olympic arena, making it that much more powerful.
4. Coca-Cola/Minute Maid “Doing Good” ft. Missy Franklin
Alright guys, we’re getting into the thick of it now. If this doesn’t make you bawl like a baby, I don’t know what will. I think it’s safe to say that behind every Olympian there is a parent that faces their own set of challenges and concerns - worrying over whether or not the strenuous training schedule is worth it, and if all of the sacrifices made will pay off. This ad opens on a press conference with swimmer Missy Franklin reading a letter to her parents, thanking them for their continued support. She acknowledges that in her journey to become an Olympian, she has given up precious time she has with her parents. It ends with her leaving the podium to hug her parents. She’s in tears, her parents are in tears, and if you’re human, you’re in tears, too.
5. P&G “Thank you Mom” ft. Your Mom
Here we are, at the end of our list and I’ve saved the best, and also the most tear-inducing, for last. When I first saw this ad, I was at work, and before it even reached the minute mark, my coworkers and I were all in tears. This video has it all; it’s heartfelt, epic, and boy oh boy does it bring the feels. Recreating scenes from throughout the Olympians’ lives - from young children, to teenagers - it highlights the support each athlete received from their mom and how that support was instrumental in pushing them to become Olympians. The montage transitions to show each athlete competing in the Olympic Games, and then find their moms in the crowd for an emotional embrace. These last few moments will make you immediately want to call your mom and tell her you love her. Good luck on dialing her number through your tears, though.