Rife with potential for against-all-odds success stories, career-threatening injuries and dashed hopes, the Olympics is the perfect showcase for dramatic, epic and heartbreaking moments we’ll always remember. While Superbowl commercials tend to favor the irreverent or ironic, Olympic advertisers love to capitalize on the warm, cuddly feelings the world harbors for amateur athletes who give their all in the pursuit of international glory.
Unlike sports advertising for football, soccer or basketball games, many Olympic commercials target women, who account for a large chunk of Olympic Games viewership.
As Deutsch media officer Peter Gardiner told the New York Times in 2008, the Olympics "has sort of been the anti-sports sport for quite a while. That's why you see so many female-oriented products advertised there."
With the 2012 London Olympics just around the corner, here’s some of the most epic, inspirational and heartbreaking Olympics commercials in recent memory.
Procter & Gamble’s “Best Job” ad dares you not to cry, as mothers from around the world help their children grow into accomplished athletes.
Morgan Freeman, whose voice is nothing if not epic, voices a series of "Go World," Olympic commercials. In one video, Freeman tells the story of 1992 runner Derek Redmond, whose father helped him walk across the finish line.
In another, speed skater Dan Jansen mourned the loss of his sister just before his race in the 1988 Olympics.
Visa’s latest effort stars Lopez Lomong, a American track-and-field athlete born in South Sudan.
See if you can pick out all the famous Brits in London’s official 2012 Olympics commercial “Sport at Heart.” It features, among other things, David Beckham, Jeremy Irons, Dame Helen Mirren, Joseph Fiennes, Sir Roger Moore, bowler-hat clad umbrella fencers, hockey-playing construction workers, and gymnast hotel porters.
In this AT&T ad from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, a female snowboarder reaches for the stars to the tune of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”
“Everything you need is already inside” Nike begins in this 2008 Beijing Olympics commercial.
For more information on the kind of advertising Olympics marketers are going for, check out the 2011 edition of the Olympic Marketing Fact File, produced by the International Olympic Community.
The 2012 London Olympics kick off this summer on July 27.